Rocky Fork Enterprise

City leaders mull options as trash contract expiring

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Improved service and cost containment is what Gahanna service director Dottie Franey said she expects with a possible change in how the city handles refuse, recycling and yard waste in 2015 and beyond.

Gahanna City Council is examining contract options.

Franey said Gahanna is a part of a solid-waste consortium with nine other communities: Bexley, New Albany, Reynoldsburg, Dublin, Westerville, Plain Township, Washington Township, Mifflin Township and Blendon Township.

Gahanna is in the fifth year of a five-year contract, with two optional years with Rumpke.

The consortium, which is under the management of the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio, chose to go out for bids prior to each community having to make a decision on whether to accept the first option year of the current Rumpke contract.

Bids were received from Rumpke, Inland, Republic and Local Waste, with Rumpke being the only bidder offering rates that are lower than what residents are paying.

Rumpke offered four options in its bid:

* Status quo: Current services would continue. The residents would be provided trash cans, yard-waste pickup on Mondays and unlimited trash, recycling and bulk pickup on Tuesdays.

Franey said this option provides no opportunity to save additional money by increased recycling.

Residents who want wheeled carts from the trash hauler must continue to pay to lease them from the hauler on top of the monthly fee. The price for this option would save the customer at least $29.40 over the five-year contract.

* Automated: The hauler would provide wheeled carts for trash and recycling and utilizes automated pickup. All services -- trash (amount fitting in the wheeled cart), recycling and bulk pickup -- would be on Wednesdays.

The price for this option would depend on the size of the wheeled cart chosen by the customer. The size of carts ranges from 96 gallons (equivalent to three trash cans) to 32 gallons, with respective costs ranging from a few cents more than they currently pay if they choose the 96-gallon cart to saving at least $92.40 over five years if they choose the 32-gallon cart.

* Contractor-design (referred to as Option A):

Under this option, Gahanna's pickup day for all three services would change to Wednesdays. Residents would receive a wheeled trash and recycling cart while reducing their costs by about $2.40 over five years with a 96-gallon trash cart, at least $64.80 with a 64-gallon cart or more than $94 if they choose the 32-gallon trash cart.

This option also would include a rebate from Rumpke for increased recycling from Gahanna residents, thus resulting in lower residential rates later.

* Contractor-design (referred to as Option B): This option is basically the same as Option A, except yard waste and recycling would be picked up only every two weeks. The five-year savings for this option would range from at least $62.40 to $154.80, based on the size of a trash cart.

Legislation has been proposed to council to implement Option A.

Council member Michael Schnetzer asked Franey what is the benefit to the city and to residents with Option A.

Franey said SWACO's mission is to manage the district municipal solid-waste stream to achieve environmentally responsible and cost-effective disposal, treat solid waste as a resource capable of yielding recovered materials and energy, reduce reliance on landfilling and plan future disposal capacity for the district. She said Gahanna consistently has supported SWACO's mission, as evidenced by the city's fully implementing recycling more than 22 years ago.

"With residents, I think their priorities would be improved service over what they're getting now and cost containment," she said. "I believe we have service issues, especially on Mondays, because there are so many yard-waste pickups. In the pre-bid meetings, every vendor said the current pickup schedule was the least efficient design and not cost-effective at all."

By communities taking separate pickup days, Franey said, service should improve.

"The Option A program is the complete circle that addresses the fact that trash is a liability and recycling is an asset," she said. "Tipping fees for trash disposal are a significant factor in the cost of refuse disposal. On the flip side, we pay nothing for disposal of recycling. Reducing tipping fees due to increased recycling is effective cost containment. Option A goes one step further by offering rebates for increased recycling.

"Not only will we begin to contain costs by reducing our trash liability, but possibly receiving money from our recycling assets to put toward future rate reductions," she said. "Option A is the first time we've seen a true sustainable model reveal itself. It's a culture change to a sustainable program."

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