Hilliard officials are expected in the next few weeks to accept a one-year contract renewal with Rumpke, the city's solid-waste disposal and recycling provider, but significant changes in the service could begin next year.
Hilliard's current three-year contract with Rumpke expires June 30. The contract provided the city with an option to renew the contract for an additional one-year period.
Public Service Director Butch Seidle said at the Feb. 25 meeting of the City Planning, Projects and Services Committee that Rumpke would extend the contact at the same base bid rate of the final year of the current contract, which is $15.11 per month per household.
"Clearly, an extension of the contact at the 2012 rates makes sense for our community," said Mayor Don Schonhardt, adding the city would take advantage of the time to find the best rate for a new contract.
Anticipated changes in the next year could include mechanized collections, bi-weekly collection of recyclable material and yard waste, a switch to city-controlled billing and even a new provider.
At a special meeting of the Planning, Projects and Services Committee Feb. 19, Schonhardt said he wants the city to control billing for refuse collection and disposal.
"If billing is done in-house, then it's not a factor when choosing a provider," said Schonhardt, adding that billing issues are the most common complaint the city receives about waste disposal.
Officials also indicated an interest in switching to a system in which collection vehicles would mechanically pick up city-provided receptacles.
The large, covered trash cans are believed to reduce loose trash that sometimes is blown out of the variety of trash cans residents purchase to use.
"On a windy day, it can look like north Philadelphia," Councilman Joe Erb said about trash blowing on streets and collecting against fences.
The city would purchase the containers, a cost that could be offset by the reduced cost for mechanized service rather than staffed pickups, Schonhardt said.
Officials also discussed switching to a bi-weekly pickup of recyclable material and yard waste.
Under such a scenario, solid waste would be collected on a resident's assigned day of the week each week, but recyclable material and yard waste would be collected on the assigned day on alternating weeks.
Some committee members pointed out a concern that residents might take yard waste to the curb on a Sunday, a common day to so after completing weekend yard work, where it could sit for more than a week.
Other committee members pondered whether some families simply generate too much recyclable material to conveniently store during a two-week period.
In the event a bi-weekly system is implemented, Seidle said, current city code prohibits the placement of trash receptacles or recycling bins at the curb more than 48 hours prior to the scheduled day of collection.
Hilliard officials also could opt to join a consortium for trash collection. They explored the possibility when negotiating the current contract. After soliciting bids to join a consortium, they opted out and forged the current three-year contact with Rumpke at an improved rate.
Seidle said the city was not obligated to remain in the consortium, but withdrawing likely did frustrate the other members.
"We're not here to make (them) happy," Councilman Nathan Painter said.
Rather, he said, city officials want to find the best rate possible for residents.
Hilliard is one of a few local municipalities, including Upper Arlington and Worthington, that are not part of a consortium.
Local Waste Service was the city's provider prior to Rumpke.
Eric DeHays, a representative of Local Waste Service, appealed Feb. 25 to City Council members to bid for the service.
"I think we can provide a better deal," DeHays said.
Erb said while he generally preferred soliciting bids whenever possible, in this instance, renewing the current contract was the best option to achieve the best long-term contract for the city.