As the public hearing on a proposed contract between Arvada and waste hauler Republic Services gets closer, a question posed to the hauler, and the hauler’s answer, could affect the hearing’s …
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As the public hearing on a proposed contract between Arvada and waste hauler Republic Services gets closer, a question posed to the hauler, and the hauler’s answer, could affect the hearing’s direction.
Many residents have reached out to their councilmembers about the prospect of a contract with Republic, which would ask residents to pay for trash and recycling services through Republic or opt out for a monthly fee of $5.13. After paying the fee, residents could contract with their own hauler and would still have access to some services through Republic such as yard waste and bulky item drop-off events.
To councilmembers such as Mayor Marc Williams and John Marriott, based on resident feedback, about half the city seems to want the switch to a single hauler, with the other half opposed. This prompted Williams to ask the city to explore putting the decision in the citizens’ hands with a question on the ballot this November.
But when the city asked Republic Services if it would still be willing to move forward with its proposed contract if the question went on the ballot, Republic said no, according to city manager Mark Deven.
With the contract, which locks prices in for two years and allows Arvadans to adjust their rates based on how much waste they throw out, “(Republic has said) this is the very best we can do and we would like you to decide on it,” Deven said. “We certainly respect their position. I think they gave it due consideration.”
After the Arvada Press's print deadline, Republic provided a statement saying "Republic Services has worked with the city of Arvada for two years on an agreement to provide single-hauler waste and recycling collection service to residents of Arvada, and we encourage the city to maintain its current course with the draft contract.
"Republic Services appreciates the partnership we have built with Arvada and look forward to continuing to grow this relationship for many years to come," the statement continued.
The company's decision means that if the city chooses to put the question on the ballot, it will have to renegotiate a contract, potentially with another waste hauling company, Deven said.
At the upcoming public hearing, which will occur June 15, the city will recommend that council should not put the question on the ballot, Deven said. But he added that council still has the power to do so.
Randy Moorman, who serves on the Arvada Sustainability Advisory Committee — the group that first proposed the switch based on two years of collecting feedback from residents on recycling, financial and other needs — said he believes a vote would be unfair to Arvada residents most affected.
The single waste hauler would serve non-HOA residents, though HOAs can join the service if they choose. But if all Arvadans vote on the issue, some HOA residents who already have a single hauler for their HOA will be voting on an outcome that never directly affects them, but affects non-HOA residents, Moorman said.
He added that “there’s no way to summarize something as complicated as this on the ballot. That’s why we have a city council.”
As of now, councilmembers disagree on the idea of a public vote.
Councilmember Nancy Ford echoed the concerns of Moorman, saying she would likely not be in favor of a public vote.
While acknowledging that some residents feel the decision could take away their rights, she believes the program is not about what works for every individual but about bettering the whole community. It provides benefits to everyone, she said, such as by reducing wear on roads and increasing the city’s overall recycling rate.
“This is a citywide program and one resident is going to be voting based on their own pocketbook. We’re looking at a larger scale,” Ford said. “We don’t ask voters every time we raise fees for water and stormwater. To me, this is another utility.”
But Marriott believes that because residents are so divided and so many have voiced opinions on it, whether council votes the contract up or down, those who disagree with a council vote may not accept that decision.
“I think the only way you solve that is that you have to ask the citizens what they want you to do,” he said. “Then, whoever’s on the losing side or the winning side of that, they will accept the results.”
He also emphasized that the city has made no promises to Republic about how it would make its decision.
Further, even if Republic was to rescind its offer, “the city could then entertain new proposals,” he said. “My guess is they would get a contract proposal similar to this one.”
At their June 15 meeting, council is scheduled to make a final decision on a public vote. If the council chooses not to put the issue to a vote of the people, council will then vote yes or no on the proposed contract that same night.
Leading up to June 15, residents will have several opportunities to ask questions about the waste hauling contract. May 28, the city will hold a virtual forum, asking residents to email their questions up until 5 p.m. that day to be answered during a video conference forum that night.
The city hopes to have several options for residents to speak during the public hearing on June 15, such as a way for residents to join the meeting via video conference or give their testimony in-person under certain safety restrictions.
For more information on the forum, public hearing and other chances for input, visit arvada.org/waste-hauling.
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