Nearly five months after Quincy aldermen agreed to offer a flat-fee rate for garbage pickup to residents, the city is prepared to buy its first truck that can empty 95-gallon totes.
The new truck will have little fanfare.
It won't be one of the automated models that would have had drivers dump totes with a hydraulic arm from inside the cab. When the flat-fee rate was first proposed, city officials suggested the city buy two fully automated trucks at a projected cost of $570,000.
Instead, the Garbage and Recycling Committee recommended last week that the city buy a single truck with a tote tipper on both sides for $153,100.
It's the right direction to go if the city still plans to offer the flat-rate service.
With only 709 households signing up for 714 totes, there was not enough interest to spend more than a half-million dollars for the automated trucks. Officials said 1,500 households were needed for the program to break even, and the city's goal was for 1,000 households to sign up.
An automated truck expected to cost $100,000 more than the trucks with tote tippers. In fact, the current city fleet could be retrofitted with tote tippers.
Automated trucks remain an option if more residents request totes in the future.
Determining the plan for how the flat-fee service would work wasn't easy.
A plan to privatize garbage service supported by Mayor Kyle Moore was panned by the public at two hearings last December. A plan to triple the price of garbage stickers with annual 3 percent increases also was panned.
The hybrid plan that introduced the optional $12.99 per month flat-fee program that requires the purchase of a $60 tote also increased the price of garbage stickers from 50 to 75 cents.
More changes are coming to Quincy's garbage collection.
The Garbage and Recycling Committee will be working with Central Services and the Engineering and IT departments to develop new routes for the trucks -- which will mean new pickup days for some residents.
City officials recently made it clear that the routes are uneven. Crews have a difficult time finishing some of the routes, while the routes are finished on other days without problems. Spreading the number of households more evenly over the number of routes will make collection more efficient.
The tote service is expected to launch in January at the same time as the new routes, so the city must make sure everything is lined up properly for both.
If not, the idea that more residents sign up for the flat-fee totes service is likely to fail.