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Elkhorn explores reducing frequency of recycling collection

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Darryl Enriquez
September 15, 2010
— A trash collection contract thatís being negotiated here likely would change weekly collection of household recyclables to once every two weeks.

If approved, the hand-carried, blue recycling bins now used would be replaced by 65- or 95-gallon carts with wheels.


The Committee on Municipal Services and & Utilities is recommending to the Common Council that a service contract with Veolia Environmental Services be renewed for five years. The council will take up the recommendation at its regular meeting Monday.


Some aldermen want the trash contract go out for bids among waste disposal firms to see if the city can get a better deal, City Administrator Sam Tapson said. However, most city officials agree that Veolia has provided good service at a competitive cost, and the city likely will not seek bids for a new contract, he said.


What remains undetermined is how the service would be provided.


Tapson said the committee favors switching collection of recyclables to bi-weekly. It also is examining whether refuse should be collected in carts, too. Refuse collection would remain once a week, regardless of what kind of trash bin is used, he said.


City officials should study the options for the next two months, the committee advised.


Tapson said it makes sense for Veolia to collect refuse and recyclables in carts because worker can use the same truck equipped with a device that lifts carts and dumps them into containers on the vehicle. The driver operates the lift and does not touch the carts, he said.


Any or all transitions approved by the council likely would not take place until April.


The cityís current trash collection contract with Veolia expires at the end of the year. Veolia now collects refuse, recyclables and leaves.


The city is expecting an increase of about 8 percent above the 2010 contract, which costs more than $400,000, Tapson said. Incremental annual increases would be built into the contract, he said.


The new recycling measure requires the purchase and distribution of 2,800 new carts at a cost of $147,000. It also requires the purchase of a truck equipped with a lifter for $295,000, according to a Veolia memo to the city. If the city does recycling and refuse collecting with carts, the costs for trucks and carts would double, the memo states.


The city has a surplus of $90,000 in its solid waste fund that could be used to offset some of the conversion cost and keep down annual cost increases, Tapson said.



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