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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 19, 2018

Council debates trash carts

Proposal would give carts to residents for $1.50 extra per month
By Andy Hallman, Ledger news editor | Jul 10, 2018
Photo by: ANDY HALLMAN/Ledger photo Fairfield City Councilors, from left, Doug Flournoy, Michael Halley and Paul Gandy chat after Monday’s council meeting. The council debated but did not vote on a measure to increase trash costs $1.50 per month to pay for wheeled carts.

The Fairfield City Council debated Monday whether to supply the town’s residents with a trash receptacle for a monthly fee, instead of asking them to use their own like they are now.

Under the proposal, all residents would receive a 64-gallon cart, but could receive a 96-gallon cart at no extra charge. They would only have to ask for the larger one. To cover the cost of the carts, residents would be charged an extra $1.50 per month on their utility bill. The 96-gallon trash cart would be identical to the 96-gallon recycling cart residents already have, the only difference being that the trash cart’s lid is green instead of yellow.

 

Survey

Some residents have already been using the 96-gallon trash carts for the past four months. Each of the seven councilors was supposed to select 10 members of their ward to test the carts on a trial basis from February through June, who would then complete a survey once the trial period was over. That idea was a compromise between Waste Management, which wanted all residents to test the carts, and councilors who felt the public had already rejected the larger carts in a 2017 survey.

Environmental and Franchise Utilities Committee chairman Doug Flournoy reported the results of the survey at Monday’s meeting, noting that of the 44 people who completed the survey, 38 (87 percent) reported being satisfied with the 96-gallon cart.

Other survey results:

1) Would you prefer a smaller 64-gallon wheeled cart instead of the 96-gallon cart? Result: 21 for yes (49 percent) and 22 for no.

2) Based on your experience using the wheeled cart, would you prefer to continue to use your own 33-gallon containers/bags for solid waste collection? Result: Six for yes (14 percent) and 37 for no.

3) Based on using the provided 96-gallon wheeled cart, do you see value in the use of a cart, even if you prefer the smaller 64-gallon size? Result: 39 for yes (93 percent) and three for no.

4) Would you support an approximate $1 to $2 per month charge to provide a wheeled cart, including all maintenance or replacement charges? Result: 27 for yes (63 percent) and 16 for no.

The environmental committee voted 2-1 in favor of the above proposal to charge residents $1.50 for either a 64-gallon or 96-gallon cart. Committee members Tom Thompson and Daryn Hamilton voted in favor, while Flournoy voted against it. The full council did not vote on the matter Monday but merely discussed the environmental committee’s recommendation. Flournoy said he voted against the proposal because he said the survey was not representative of the city’s residents and undercounted those on a fixed income.

 

Council debate

Mayor Ed Malloy asked Waste Management’s municipal marketing director David Schaab why residents would pay the $1.50 charge in perpetuity.

“If you pay $18 per year for a cart, after 10 years you’ve paid $180 for the cart,” Malloy said. “When you buy an iPhone, it comes off your bill after 24 months.”

Schaab said the charge was necessary to pay for the additional 4,000 carts the company would have to order, and to pay for an additional staffer to repair and replace those carts.

“The great thing about an ongoing service fee is that it never goes out of warranty,” Schaab said. “If for some reason there’s a manufacturing defect, we’ll replace it.”

Councilor Paul Gandy asked Schaab how much it would cost Waste Management to acquire and maintain the carts. He argued that, if the company wanted this change to save money, the savings should be passed onto residents.

Schaab replied that he was reticent to disclose his company’s costs and revenues in a public forum.

“The [carts] are expensive,” he said. “If we have a contract which requires replacement fees, those fees start at $95 and go from there.”

Gandy asked how long a cart lasts. Schaab said the “beautiful thing” about the contract is that residents would not need to worry about that since Waste Management would be required to supply them a cart. He estimated that the carts last about 10 years if not closer to 15.

Schaab said one advantage to the 64-gallon and 94-gallon carts is that all the trash is contained, so trash day is less messy. He said it would be harder for animals to get into the trash and spread it around.

 

Does it save money?

Gandy returned to his earlier question to Schaab, “Does this save you money?” and asked to know how much it saves the company.

“Waste Management is not willing to divulge the information to us, the city, on how much it’s going to save them, but they’re clear on how much they want us to be charged. I would think that would be a fair trade of information,” Gandy said.

Thompson interjected, “Do we ask a contractor to give us their financial statement on how much they make on a job?”

“That’s not what I’m asking for,” Gandy said.

“That’s exactly what you’re asking for,” Thompson replied.

Schaab said the information Gandy was asking for is propriety and not something he wanted to divulge.

Malloy said he sees value in cleaning up trash day by putting everything in a single bin. He also understood Gandy’s concern about the cost.

“I agree with Thompson, too, in that we don’t ask our contract bidders, ‘How did you do on that contract?’” Malloy said. “But we do have to understand the costs.”

 

 

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