Mt. Vernon Register-News

February 12, 2014

City council talks trash

The Register-News

---- — MT. VERNON — As the city’s contracts for trash pickup expire, the council is looking adding landscape disposal and recycling to the new proposals.

“Our current contract was with Midwest Waste, which was bought out and is now run by Republic,” said City Manager Ron Neibert. “The contract expires on April 30. Now is the time to discuss the levels of service and options.”

At this time, the city provides weekly residential pickup, unlimited weekly bulk item pickup and seasonal landscape waste pickup at curbside.

“The residents are charged $10.99 per month for the service, based on the number of customers and the monthly cost to provide the service,” Neibert said. “The council has had several discussions about landscape waste and the possibility of eliminating leaf burning.”

The council has decided to ask for bids which include alternate bids for additional landscape waste pickups, and the seasonal pickups which are now in effect. Getting the bids does not lock the council into making a decision to ban leaf burning at this time.

“It shouldn’t be just the mayor and council making that decision,” Mayor Mary Jane Chesley said. “I like the idea of doing a survey and allowing people to participate in the process. ... We want to make a decision based on what the large majority of people want.”

“Some people may not believe a burn ban is necessary,” Councilman Ron Lash added. “We need to know.”

In addition, the idea of curbside recycling has been discussed previously by the council, and the trash bids will also include alternate bids regarding recycling.

“An option is to have curbside totes, where customers would get two totes instead of the one they get now,” Neibert said. “The recycling tote would be a different color. Anyone who wishes to recycle would throw recyclable material in that tote and the trash in the other tote. The trash company would then sort out the types of recyclables — paper and cardboard, glass, metals and plastics.”

The recycling program would be in addition to the trash pickup. However, the city will ask for two alternate recycling bids.

“There are two scenarios,” Neibert explained. “Residents don’t have to participate, and only receive a tote if they sign up to participate ... which would be considered voluntary participation. Only those participating would pay for the additional service. Or, we can have totes for all residents, making it mandatory — even though people don’t have to choose to recycle — and everyone would pay any additional costs.”

Chesley said the city also needs feedback on recycling as well.

“People need to know this could cost more,” Chesley said. Neibert said the overall costs of trash service could go down, based on the overall profit a company would make on the recycled materials collected.

Surveys will be provided to residents on the backs of water bills, and can be turned in to City Hall for participation. In addition, a Facebook survey will be set up to get comments from the public on both the leaf burning and recycling programs.