After the Cullman County Commission approved their purchase and use last week, the City of Cullman could be the next local government to make the switch to automated garbage trucks.

A public demonstration of an automated truck was held before Monday night’s meeting of the Cullman City Council, which allowed council members and city residents to get a look at it in action before the council makes a decision.

“We haven’t signed up for them yet,” said Cullman City Councilman Johnny Cook. “We’ve got it in the budget for new garbage trucks, and we’ve got to have some, and we’re trying to decide whether we’re going with this or the conventional ones.”

Cook said the main reason the city is considering the switch is the safety of its sanitation workers.

Dumped

An automated garbage truck empties a garbage can Monday evening.

Cullman’s sanitation workers have experienced injuries on the job, such as a hurt back or cuts from reaching into a can, and Cullman County saw one of its workers killed a few years ago after a car crashed into the back of the truck he was riding.

“We’re trying to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” Cook said. “The number one workman’s comp claim is people who ride on the back of a garbage truck, so we want to cut down on injuries.”

Instead of two or three workers in each truck to drive and collect the trash from garbage cans, the automated trucks require only a driver to operate a boom arm on the right side of the truck that picks up the cans and dumps them into the truck. Their purchasing and maintenance costs are actually cheaper than the trucks the city uses now, Cook said.

He said the city will also provide garbage cans for residents.

Even though the trucks don’t require as many workers as the conventional trucks, city workers will not have to worry about their jobs if the city does decide to move to automated trucks, Cook said.

“No one’s going to lose their job,” he said. 

Cook said the city will not fill any vacancies left by workers as they retire or leave and if they’re young enough not to retire, they will be transferred to a new position that will keep them working for the city.

“We’ve got great employees and we want to keep them all,” he said.

Cook said the council will likely make a decision on purchasing the trucks within the next month.

During the meeting, the council also passed Resolution 2020-02 to apply for the CRISI Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements grant to add safety features to railroad crossings near the train depot and Cullman Middle School that would allow trains to not blow their horns when traveling through those crossings. 

In other business, the council:

Approved special event request from Shannon Witcher of Grace Chapel/If the Shoe Fits for a Trunk or Treat on the Warehouse District block of 1st Ave NE on Oct. 30 from 3-9 p.m.

Approved a special event request from Nathanial Hutchinson of Cullman Moose Lodge for a turkey shoot competition behind the Moose Lodge on Eva Road every Saturday in November and December from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Approved a special event request from Daniel Lloyd of East Side Baptist Church for a “Hot Chocolate 5K” and Fun Run fundraiser benefitting the Kids Side Children’s Ministry with the route being Convent Road, 3rd Street and Oak Street on Nov. 2 from 8:15-10:30 a.m.

Passed Resolution 2020-01 to enter into an agreement with Lincoln Insurance Company to provide life insurance and accidental death and dismemberment insurance coverage for city employees through The Prewitt Group.

Passed Resolution 2020-03 to enter into a contract with St. John & Associates for engineering services on sewer system improvements around the city.

Had the first reading of Ordinance No. 2020-02 to annex property owned by LGO Realty Holdings, LP located at 645 AL Highway 157 into the city limits of Cullman as B-2.

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