Council debates implementation of waste-hauling program

Michael Hicks
mhicks@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 2/8/21

With the city of Arvada implementing a one-source waste-hauling program this summer, including recycling, the city council's Feb. 1 work session focused on two questions: who should decide whether to …

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Council debates implementation of waste-hauling program

Posted

With the city of Arvada implementing a one-source waste-hauling program this summer, including recycling, the city council's Feb. 1 work session focused on two questions: who should decide whether to enter the program — landlords or tenants — and how large of a default cart should be.

Waste hauling services are expected to begin in early July. Residents will be asked to make their cart selection between March 8 through April 16, ranging from $11.50 per month for 35-gallon trash cart and 95-gallon recycling cart to $19.76 per month for the commonly used 95-gallon carts for both trash and recycling. The city will start receiving and staging carts at lots either at the Arvada Center, Arvada High School and/or Arvada West High School on June 1, and waste hauling charges will start appearing on utility bills in September.

If residents elect to opt out of the program, they will still be charged a monthly fee of $5.13 with $4.25 of that going to Republic Services as part of its agreement to be the city's organized waste hauler and 88 cents going to the city, Gillis said.

“While all residents are encouraged to participate in the program, Colorado law reserves the right to choose one's own waste hauler,” Deputy City Manager Lorie Gillis said. “As a community-wide program, there are benefits to all residents whether or not they participate in the city program.”

Among those citywide benefits to the city-based waste hauling program, according to Gillis, would be improving recycling rates throughout Arvada, decreasing trash truck traffic, decreasing noise nuisance and air pollution. The program will also provide additional services for recycling collection and a pair of bulk-item drop-off events.

The city is receiving approximately 100 calls per week about the program, Gillis said. About 70% are seeking additional information and another 20% expressed excitement about the program. The final 10% expressed displeasure with the city's plan, Gillis noted.

“We know our customers are really important and we want to make sure Republic Services are aware of the needs in our community,” Gillis said.

Before the work session, Arvada City Council unanimously approved an intergovernmental agreement with Front Range Waste Diversion Enterprise for a cash grant of $500,000 to support the purchase of recycling carts, said City Manager Mark Deven.

This would coincide with a previous grant from Recycling Partnership of $512,000 awarded with $480,000 going toward cart purchases.

Customer Information Manager Jason O'Keefe said that the city hasn't ordered any carts as of yet. It won't have a firm number until mid-April, but tentative expectations are to order 26,000 trash cans and additional 26,000 recycling bins from Schaefer Systems International.

There are 5,800 tenant/landlord arrangements, according to the city. The plan is to notify both parties with landlords being sent a selection postcard one week before tenants.

Councilmember John Marriott said that given the city's utility billing system it would make sense that the property owner be the one who decides whether to enroll in the waste hauling program or not, particularly if they don't reside in Arvada.

“It ought to be the property owner who responds. If not, it goes to the default selection,” Marriott suggested.

Gillis noted, however, that the decision may be what it's in the lease agreement between the tenant and landlord about utility expenses.

Bin size

As for which size trash cart a resident should receive if they don't respond to the city's request for a decision, the city council was split between the medium-sized 65-gallon bin and the larger 95-gallon one.

The city expects to receive numerous non-responses. Gillis said that according to Schaefer Systems International, a 20% response rate would be considered “good.”

According to Republic Services, per Gillis, the most commonly used cart is 65 gallons, used by 45% of customers, followed by a 95-gallon cart used by 30% of customers. That said, Marriott suggested that the most logical choice would be the 65-gallon cart as the default size.

But others suggested the larger bin with the option to downsize later.

“We should start with 95 gallons to get people used to using the recycling bin first,” Councilmember Lauren Simpson said. “Change is really hard, but 95 gallons is the standard size for most people across Arvada.”

Deven agreed that the 95-gallon bin appeared the way to go.

“I respect the council's feeling on this. With the information that we've received from providers and going back to (Councilmember Bob) Fifer, we could end up in a situation where we would not have enough 95-gallon carts, especially to start out with. Part of this is education. We're throwing recycling away.”

Residents will have the option to change their cart size once in the first 180 days without being charged, Gillis said.

Either way, Mayor Marc Williams advocated for continuing the education process with residents on reducing waste even after the program is implemented.

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