News

YEAR IN REVIEW: Garbage to continue being major issue

Posted: Dec. 28, 2013 5:32 pm Updated: Jan. 12, 2014 12:15 am
Mark Schwindeler rides a platform on the back of a city garbage truck during his route on Oak Street. (H-W Photo/Michael Kipley)

By MATT HOPF
Herald-Whig Staff Writer

The future of garbage and recycling collection dominated public discussion during the final months of 2013.

And it no doubt will continue to be a hot topic moving into the new year.

After hopes that the Quincy City Council would approve a plan either to privatize service or to make changes to the city's current system by the end of 2013, Mayor Kyle Moore agreed earlier this month that the deadline would not be met.

After two public hearings earlier this month that blasted privatization proposals, Moore has recommended that the city raise its garbage sticker price from 50 cents to $1.50 and seek a franchise fee from private haulers that operate in the city.

He expects the Finance and Garbage and Recycling committees to review proposals soon.

"I would imagine we'll send it to committee the first or second of January, and they'll come up with their recommendation to council," Moore said. "One of the reasons why we had the timeline is all of our contracts (landfill, recycling and yard waste) are due at the end of April, so if we decided to continue providing the service, we would actually have to (request proposals) for landfill tipping."

The city sought bids in August from private haulers to collect garbage and recycling from all 15,000 residents.

Officials said they wanted look at options, since the city's fleet of nine garbage and recycling trucks were bought in 2001.

The city garbage and recycling collection is also projected run a $1 million deficit in the current fiscal year to serve 8,600 residents. The city collects about $600,000 from the sticker program.

Moore initially supported a privatization plan from an undisclosed company, which would have provided weekly garbage collection and biweekly recycling pickup for $13.20 for 95-gallon totes that would be provided to each customer. The company would use automated trucks that would not require drivers to exit the cab.

The city now has seven of the 10 budgeted positions filled for garbage collection. Moore said two of the workers would have filled vacancies in the Sewer Department, and the rest would have formed a second concrete crew with Central Services.

If the city went to a private hauler, it would have enforced an ordinance that makes the city solely responsible for collecting solid waste.

With signs leaning towards the city continuing to operate the service, officials will likely allow private operators to continue operating in the city.

Moore said garbage and recycling has been one of the most watched issues that he can remember.

"I don't remember too many really, really difficult decisions that we had to make in my four years as an alderman," he said. "We had the tax levy vote in 2009, but we didn't have anything that had the attention that garbage and recycling did the last few months."

 

-- mhopf@whig.com/221-3391

 

AT A GLANCE

Quincy residents got their first taste of what it would cost to meet federal requirements to prevent sewer overflows into the Mississippi River.

The City Council first received the recommendation in June from Cambridge, Mass.-based engineering firm CDM Smith, which proposed a $59 million project to meet the mandate. It calls for installing nine box culverts to hold wastewater until it can be treated.

The cost of the project would require a substantial hike in sewer rates. A customer now paying $128 a year would pay $575 by 2033.

Requirements introduced by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1994 set a goal for the 772 communities nationwide with combined-sewer overflows, including Quincy, to capture 85 percent of the wastewater and limit overflows to between four and six annually. The city currently captures 60 percent of wastewater, with untreated water reaching the river an average of 57 times a year.

Jeff Conte, director of utilities and engineering, said while the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has had the city's plan since June, it has not yet completed its review.