Quincy needs permanent solution to waste services

Posted: Nov. 1, 2019 4:20 pm

To The Herald-Whig:

I am writing to comment on the article regarding Quincy trash services in the Oct. 27, 2019, edition.

Serving as an alderman for 16 years, city waste service has been discussed multiple times. The article outlined several financial problems being created or continued with the hybrid program we have today. The financial problems experienced today were exactly what some feared would happen.

Reviewing the financials, the expense trends and revenue projections the delivery system for waste services was unsustainable without changes. Unfortunately, the changes adopted recently are also unsustainable. The changes made do nothing to address the financial challenges associated with waste removal. There were, and are, simply too many unknown factors that influence the financial impact of providing waste services for a government entity. The market for recyclables, expenses, revenue, pension cost and other capital needs impact the financials of waste services and any service paid for by taxpayers.

I advocated for complete privatization; the city gets out of providing waste services for a number of reasons. There are viable private haulers in place to provide these services today. It is a private service that is already regulated, and we have a permitting process in place. A city code is in place to address residents who do not take care of their waste issues. Complete privatization may necessitate additional staff in the code enforcement office, but comes with predictable and controllable expenses over the fluctuating expenses and financials that we have today.

Another approach was to have a citywide contract with one hauler. The financials on this program alleviate financial instability for the length of the contract. This approach could put existing private haulers out of business and the government would be deciding winners and losers. Letting the residents decide their hauler and the city providing oversight of the haulers was a more attractive program to me.

The final alternative was/is to identify waste as an essential service paid for with tax dollars alone, no stickers, tote fee or decals. This option would require reductions in other services and/or tax and fee increases as costs rise, fluctuating financial factors will impact this approach indefinitely.

I hope that as alternatives for waste services are discussed, all alternatives are discussed in full. We need a permanent fix for waste services in our city.

Paul Havermale