Unanswered questions will delay council vote on trash hauling proposal

TrashSo many questions, not enough answers. That about sums up the city council’s wide-ranging and animated discussion about a proposed trash hauling cooperative this morning.

City Manager Robert Layton said he will resume discussions with trash haulers to answer questions about how complaints about service would be handled, how the city would deal with delinquent accounts and what the criteria would be for future rate hikes. Once those issues are resolved, Layton plans to present the proposal to district advisory boards citywide, most likely in January. That pushes a city council vote on the matter at least into mid-January.

“I don’t want to go back to the public until we resolve those issues,” Layton said.

The basics of the proposal are simple. Everyone in the city would have weekly trash service, bi-weekly curbside recycling and annual bulk waste pick up. It would cost $20, which includes administrative fees.

Meanwhile, trash hauling companies would keep the same number of customers they have today, and each company would be assigned to a specific part of the city near their existing customer base. The reduced price agreements that some neighborhood associations now have with trash haulers would be honored until they expire.

But many details are unknown. Among them are:

  • Who would consumers complaint to? The cooperative or the city? And who would ensure the complaints lead to improved service? If there’s not improved service, what are the consequences?
  • How delinquent payments would be handled? Since the $20 trash bill would be included with monthly water bills, would the city stop trash service if they only receive a partial payment? And what type of illegal dumping issues could that lead to? Would there be any reduced prices for low-income residents?
  • The proposed agreement locks in the $20 monthly rate for three years. But what criteria would be used to determine new rates once the initial agreement expires?
View the city’s presentation document here.

Read The Eagle’s prior reporting here.

Watch video of today’s debate here.