Should Fairfield expand its trash collection by giving residents their own trash cart, just like the recycling cart they have now?
That?s the question the city council will debate in the next month as it considers whether to renew its contract with Waste Management, which picks up the town?s trash and recycling.
Testing the carts
Waste Management?s municipal marketing manager David Schaab told the council Monday that a select group of residents could be chosen to test the trash carts for a few months to see if they like them. Then, the city could decide on whether to order trash carts for the whole town.
Schaab suggested councilors pick 15 people from each ward to try out the carts for the first half of 2018. Feedback on the carts would be gathered in June, and a proposal for expanding the carts? use to the whole city could be delivered to the council in July.
Schaab argued that trash carts would be neater and cleaner than what residents do now, which is to put trash bags on the curb, sometimes in containers but sometimes not. The trash carts would be identical to the 96-gallon recycling carts residents have now, the only difference being the lid would be green instead of yellow.
?Service day looks so much better, much cleaner, more uniform with the trash carts,? Schaab said. ?Since the trash is in a cart, it?s not being spread around by the wind or an animal.?
Schaab said the trash cart would have two wheels just like the recycling cart.
?The trash carts have met with great acceptance wherever they?ve been utilized,? he said, mentioning that the town of Rome, Iowa, began using the trash carts in July.
Councilor Tom Thompson seemed to have a favorable opinion of the trash carts, remarking, ?We should look for anything that makes the process easier.?
Councilor Martha Rasmussen expressed a desire to make the bins uniform, and said the public would respond well to having trash carts.
For the past few months, the city has gathered surveys asking residents what they want for trash collection. The city has administered an online survey and a paper survey included in recent water bills. Surveys can be picked up at city hall.
The survey asked respondents to put a checkmark next to all the statements they agree with, and the three statements were:
1) I am interested in being able to regularly dispose of more trash without needing to attach a tag;
2) I am willing to pay an additional $1.50 per month to be able to rent a 96-gallon wheeled cart to hold my trash, the same size as the current recycling cart. This would allow me to dispose of 30 gallons more per week than presently allowed (since residents are limited to two 33-gallon trash bags per week unless they pay $1 for a sticker to put on each additional bag);
3) I am satisfied with the current trash collection system.
As of Thursday, 202 people had taken the survey online and about 300 had responded in writing. Of the online responses, 17 percent marked No. 1, 25 percent marked No. 2, and 69 percent marked No. 3.
Councilor John Revolinski said support for keeping trash services as they are with no increased fees was even more overwhelming among the paper surveys, although he didn?t have exact figures for those. He estimated that the people who wanted to keep costs down outnumbered those who wanted expanded service by a ratio of 4-to-1.
Revolinski sees no need to test the trash carts because he believes the public has made its desires loud and clear.
?Why do we ask people what they want if we?re not going to listen to them?? he said. ?It is a clear mandate from the community, so why are we entertaining a proposal to overturn that mandate??
At what cost?
Schaab couldn?t quote an exact figure for how much it would cost the city to give trash carts to every household. He said the cost of the carts would have to be be passed on to the residents somehow.
The council will receive a specific proposal in writing at its next meeting on Nov. 13, when it considers extending its contract with Waste Management. The current contract expires Nov. 30. Revolinski also suggested giving senior citizens lower rates, arguing that they probably produce less trash anyway.
Schaab said his company has provided two-tiered service in other towns, and would be amenable to doing that in Fairfield if the council desired.