Allegan will study waste single-hauler in 2019
Should the City of Allegan move forward with a study to determine whether a single hauler refuse service would be more economical for residents? That was a question discussed at length by the city council during a pre-session meeting on Monday, Oct. 8.
The answer they came up was to put the study on hold until construction season was over, possibly in February 2019.
City manager Joel Dye explained that one of the goals outlined by city council for the fiscal year July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019, was to look at what the costs and benefits would be if the city went to a single service provider.
Dye said it was common for municipalities to go to a single service provider to be able to negotiate a cheaper price for residents, save on road infrastructure costs due to lessening multiple heavy truck usage and having a tidy appearance with receptacles picked up only one day a week in each area.
Since setting the goal, licensed service providers in the city went from three to two after Republic Services purchased Chef Container. Arrowaste is the other provider.
Councilman Mike Manning asked to discuss the recycling and garbage issue after hearing from residents who were concerned whether recycling was still be offered in the city.
Charles Tripp explained that the city voted to eliminate the county recycling program because only 20 percent of the residents were using it and the other 80 percent were paying for services they weren’t utilizing.
“We did it to allow folks to pick and choose with their own service provider,” said mayor pro tem Rachel McKenzie.
Traci Perrigo said residents choose to pay extra for an extra recycling receptacle. (See note below)
DPW director Aaron Haskin said he spoke to Republic about how they were handling recycling. While Chef Container offered an easy-to-use yellow recycling bag for recyclables that was placed inside the garbage receptacle, Republic will continue to provide that service for another year but will be requiring a second receptacle for recyclables afterward.
“They said they didn’t like the bags because if they get ripped, the recyclables go in the trash anyway,” Haskin said. “They like two dumpsters.”
Haskin suggested adding to the study, the option of offering recycling weekly, bi-weekly or even monthly. He also said while he owns property in both Valley Township and the City of Allegan, his Valley Township single refuse service bill is one-third the cost it is the city.
Dye said he’d also like the study to include a choice of receptacle sizes since 90-gallons is a bit large for many residences. He would also recommend direct billing from the provider instead of adding it to utility bills.
Nancy Ingalsbee said in the 15 years she has lived here she has changed her service three times because of escalating costs.
“You would have to prove to me that it would be cheaper because I’m on a fixed income and don’t want to get stuck,” she said.
Ingalsbee also asked that preference be given to a local provider who knows the area.
Patrick Morgan said he was initially against going to a single hauler because he liked the competition to get his business; however, with the competition merging, it’s basically becoming one service anyway, except without a negotiated contract. He asked what the process would be.
Dye said currently it’s not hard to get a license to provide services in the city.
“It’s basically a one page form but if we went to a single hauler system we would have to rewrite the ordinance to include the bidding process and contracts, which are usually at least five years,” he said.
City staff will look at what rates other cities or townships are paying by going to a single service provider. Along with affordability, they will look at what providers could offer for user-friendly, city-wide recycling service.
But first, a new city hall will be renovated.
**(Editor's note: A clarification has been made to this story in Traci Perrigo's comment, changed from saying residents must pay for an extra recycling receptacle to residents choosing to pay for the receptacles.
Virginia Ransbottom can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (269) 673-5534.