Council to consider annual garbage collection fee

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Saturday, August 7, 2010
— A $40 annual fee for each Janesville household could be the fix for a projected budget gap in the city’s trash disposal fund.

The Janesville City Council on Monday will hear a report from city staff on ways to avoid losing money while collecting and disposing garbage and recyclables.

The city’s sanitation fund is projected to operate at a loss of up to $1.2 million annually between 2010 and 2013, the report states.

In a May study session, council members identified five issues that needed more review.

The council Monday could direct staff to continue researching or could have an item put on a future agenda for action, City Manager Eric Levitt said. The council will not vote to increase fees or change any landfill-related ordinances Monday.

Here are the issues and suggestions from the staff, according to the report:

A trash collection user fee: If the council decides at a future meeting to implement a trash collection and disposal user fee, city staff recommends a flat fee rather than one based on the amount of trash generated by a household.

Staff members recommend a fee of $10 per quarter per household. That would generate $1.32 million to cover the cost of collecting and disposing trash.

The city assumed that trash would be collected from 23,700 households, which would make the estimated quarterly cost of collection and disposal $13.95 per household per year.

Staff members also recommend the city keep offering collection services for businesses and require businesses to participate. The city allows businesses to dispose of up to 90 gallons of waste weekly. No record is available of how many businesses subscribe to the service, but the number is low.

Single-stream recycling: Staff members recommend the city continue to require residents to separate paper from other recyclable materials to maximize revenues in the next year.

If residents could toss all recyclable materials in one bin, it could encourage more recycling and decrease the amount of recyclable material that ends up in the city’s landfill.

But it also would reduce the amount of money the city makes selling recyclable material.

If the council wants to switch to single-stream collection, now is the time to look into it. The city’s recycling trucks are due for replacement in 2011.

The conversion would require about $1.9 million for equipment costs.

Verifying the residency of landfill users: The staff recommends the city not use a sticker system to identify residents. Instead, discretion would be left to landfill attendants.

City residents are allowed to dispose of up to 60 gallons of waste at no cost and are allowed to use the city’s compost facility. Some people are concerned that non-residents are taking advantage of the system.

The city used a free sticker system prior to 1992, but the system was burdensome and didn’t prevent abuse of dumping privileges.

Every-other-week trash collection: City staff recommends the city continue trash collection every week. Every-other-week collection would results in a 22 percent savings, but that probably wouldn’t make up for customer dissatisfaction.

Most communities that pick up trash only twice per month pick up compostable materials such as food and yard waste separately and weekly.

Decreasing the amount of waste accepted: Staff recommends renewing through 2011 the disposal contracts with waste haulers who dump at the landfill. In addition, staff recommends starting in 2012 to reduce the amount of waste accepted.

In 2009, the city’s landfill accepted 220,850 tons of waste. Of the 11 commercial and municipal waste sources listed, the city of Janesville ranked sixth by tonnage.

If the landfill accepted no more than approximately 170,000 tons of waste per year, the life of the operating landfill and extension area would be extended until 2045.

More research is needed to see if it is feasible to reduce the amount of waste intake by that much.

On the agenda

The Janesville City Council will meet in special session at 5 p.m. Monday in City Hall, 18 N. Jackson St. to talk about how to cover a projected budget shortage for the city’s waste collection program.

The regular council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the same location.

Items on the agenda include:

n A resolution to give input on a proposed plan to preserve farmland in Rock County. This fall, the Rock County Board could approve a program that would permanently prevent development on eligible farmland. Called PACE, or purchase of agricultural conservation easement, the program would pay farmers for the value of their land.

Brad Cantrell, Janesville’s community development director, said he supports the program but that some such easements could limit the city’s growth. The council could vote on a resolution asking for concessions in the county program.

Imagine three rings around the city. The first ring is closest to the city and is labeled “future growth.” It is intended for expansion in the next 30 years.

The county committee has excluded properties in that ring from PACE.

The city has designated the second ring as “urban reserve” for growth beyond 30 years. Cantrell thinks properties in that ring also should be ineligible for PACE.

The resolution makes an exception for 1,400 acres on Janesville’s southeast side that are in both the urban reserve and the PACE target area.

“We’ll recognize that as the best of the best (farmland),” Cantrell told the Gazette. “But the other areas that are not the prime, that are not recognized in that fashion, should be ineligible for the program. Those will have potential pressures for future urban growth.”

The resolution also seeks to allow the city to comment on PACE applications in a third ring where the city has extraterritorial plat review jurisdiction.

If council members approve the resolution, the city would ask that the program allow for city comments when property owners in the outer ring apply for PACE. The city also should get to comment on applications for properties in the 1,400-acre area that falls in both the PACE target designation and the city’s urban reserve designation, the release states.

n Approval of a five-year contract with Janesville Youth Hockey Club to run the concession stand at Janesville Ice Skating Center on Beloit Avenue. Council members had some concerns about the contract at a July 26 meeting. To address the concerns, City Manager Eric Levitt proposes the city get either 12.5 percent of net sales or 9 percent of gross sales. In either case, the minimum payment would be $5,000. Based on the club’s sales last year, 12.5 percent of net sales would be $3,600. Requiring more than $3,600 could negatively affect prices at the concession stand, Levitt wrote. The club uses the money to avoid increasing player fees and to provide scholarships.

n A vote on safety improvements on Milwaukee Street between Highway 14 and Wright Road, the site where a bike tunnel had been proposed. The council in June talked about options at a study session. Council members expressed a preference for a plan that would eliminate two lanes of traffic and add a center refuge for bicyclists and pedestrians. Signal lights would be upgraded and a bike path and turn lane would be added. During the study session, council members asked for more information about in-pavement lighting and an automated warning light system.

Last updated: 2:47 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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