After more than 30 individuals gave public comment and almost 400 emails were sent as well, two long-awaited votes on Arvada trash hauling took place June 15 — and a contract between the city and …
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After more than 30 individuals gave public comment and almost 400 emails were sent as well, two long-awaited votes on Arvada trash hauling took place June 15 — and a contract between the city and Republic Services was approved.
The motion passed with a 4-3 vote, with Bob Fifer, Mayor Pro Tem Dot Miller and councilmembers Nancy Ford and Lauren Simpson voting to enter the contract. All others voted no.
The city will now finalize details of the contract. Residents will be asked to pick their trash cart size in late 2020 or early 2021 and citywide trash hauling will officially begin in July 2021.
For about 18 months, the question has been if the city should contract with waste hauling company Republic Services. Under the contract, Republic would provide trash and recycling services to all non-HOA residents in the city, save those who opt out for a minimum monthly fee of $5.13.
Council was expected to vote June 15 on whether to put a question on the ballot or to vote on the issue as a council. Depending on that vote, it was also expected to vote to approve or deny the contract proposed by Republic.
Many of those who spoke at the meeting said they were in favor of a council vote, not a public vote, and wanted the contract to be approved. They cited high numbers of trash trucks on their streets, saying some neighborhoods see up to nine trucks go by per week. They also pointed to data showing the program will lower costs for most residents and make recycling more accessible for residents.
Meanwhile, a good number of speakers said they would like to see a public vote, with many of them also stating they were against the proposed contract. Multiple residents said their trash costs would actually increase under the proposed contract, with some also speaking against the monthly opt-out fee. Others argued that the public hearings and surveys have not reached a large enough portion of the community to accurately represent what citizens want.
Councilmembers first discussed whether to put the issue to a public vote. Some members like Mayor Marc Williams pointed to the clear split in public opinion as a reason to hold a vote of the people.
“I do fear that there will be an effort to have a citizen initiative referred item that’s going to force it to an election anyway,” he said. “I think we should just take the step ourselves, put it to an election and that would stop kicking the can down the road.”
But others including councilmember Fifer held to the viewpoint that the contract is too detailed to be communicated through a ballot question.
“It does concern me that some folks have said that we’ve implied they’re not smart enough to understand this as a vote. It’s a complex and dynamic discussion because when we look at performance, we look at rates, we look at additional on-taking by the staff… We have to do what is right,” he said. “I can’t support it going to the voters. We would spend more time and energy putting it toward a vote.”
The motion failed with a 3-4 vote, with Williams and councilmembers John Marriott and David Jones voting yes and all others voting no.
Then council voted 4-3 to enter into the trash hauling contract.
Marriott said he could not vote yes primarily because multiple residents have said they feel they would be harmed, financially or by losing their choice in services, if the ordinance passed.
“Make no mistake that with the good that comes from the single hauler program and there is some good, we are doing harm,” Marriott said.
But Ford and others commented that the nature of tough decisions is to look at a broad array of facts and find the best solution for the entire city.
“There’s always going to be winners and losers no matter what major decision we make,” Ford said. “If we vote based on individuals we know who may be affected negatively, we’re not looking at the overall picture.”
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