Hardin Fiscal Court has approved a new franchise agreement with Red River Waste Solutions to dispose of solid waste within the unincorporated portions of Hardin County.

According to a news release, Red River has served as Hardin County’s franchise hauler since 2014.

Hardin County Judge-Executive Harry Berry credited Deputy Judge-Executive Daniel London with handling the negotiations.

“As a result of his efforts, this agreement represents the most successful agreement yet reached with a franchise hauler,” Berry said in the news release.

The agreement with Red River is for an eight-year term. The release said it significantly expands the recycling program, provides up to two free trash carts to customers and removes about $70,000 in recycling and administrative costs from the county’s budget.

“This is a landmark solid waste franchise agreement for Hardin County,” London said in the release. “We were able to contain the cost growth, provide savings and greater value to every customer and increase revenue to the county general fund by more than $200,000. This is what happens when government transfers programs and responsibility to experts within the private sector.”

Initial franchise proposals ranged from an increase of $1.98 per month to $9.23 per month. The final agreement with Red River resulted in a 78 cent increase per month. The county said, however, more than 30 percent of customers, who are currently paying for trash carts, will see their monthly bills. Under the previous agreement, the cost for one trash cart was $2 per month and a second trash cart was $6 per month.

“One of the most exciting elements of this agreement is the expansion of the county’s recycling program,” London said. “Over the years, our recycling program has atrophied down to one drop-point. This agreement increases the recycling drop-points to nine.”

According to the release, the nine recycling locations are expected to be fully operational Aug. 1, assuming the Department of Corrections has reintroduced inmates into the labor force. Hardin County has suspended its recycling program since the COVID-19 pandemic because Meade County government, which coordinates the regional recycling, has not been able to use its jail labor.

“Red River is excited to be extending its relationship with Hardin County long-term,” Steve Smith, Red River’s vice president and a former Hardin County deputy judge-executive. “Our desire was to ensure a sound value proposition for all stakeholders, particularly our customers.”

To contain costs, Red River will go to a trash cart based system. It only will service carts issued by the company. Red River will begin delivery of the new trash carts July 6, the release said. Over the next few weeks, the release said customers will receive more information about changes through social media, robo calls, advertisements and guidance printed on monthly bills.

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