As the city seeks to restructure its trash pick-up and recycling programs for 2018 and beyond, officials will seek additional input from residents before a new contract is approved next month.

The city's solid-waste contract with Republic Services, which costs about $2.1 million annually, is set to expire in April 2018.

In December 2015, citing subsidies the city was being forced to pay into the program, officials launched discussions about how Upper Arlington should move forward with its solid-waste program. Those talks yielded a $24 annual trash fee increase for residents – from $40 to $64 – for 2016, and now city officials say it's time to determine the direction of its next solid-waste contract.

One thing that will be eliminated is Upper Arlington's time-honored "pay-as-you-throw" policy of residents buying and affixing trash stickers on each can of trash or yard waste or each bulk item every time they want a pickup.

"Many changes in the solid-waste industry have occurred in the 25 years since the city first started using stickers for its solid-waste service," said Emma Speight, Upper Arlington's community affairs director. "The sticker program is labor-intensive and cannot be adapted to industry advancements and automation."

At 6:30 p.m. Aug. 9, the city will host an "informational public meeting" at the Municipal Services Center, 3600 Tremont Road, to discuss trash collection options.

A "telephone town hall" is scheduled the evening of Aug. 15 and Upper Arlington City Council is expected to hold a public hearing at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 21 at the MSC on the chosen course for a new trash contract.

The ultimate vote on a new contract currently is slated at council's Aug. 28 meeting, which starts at 7:30 p.m.

In addition to input council receives Aug. 9 and Aug. 15, city leaders will base their decision on three options Upper Arlington has received via contract bidders, input from the city manager's office and more than 2,200 responses the city received from residents through an online discussion forum and an online survey conducted in spring 2016.

Further details about the options available are provided at www.uaoh.net/department/division.php?structureid=615, but in summary they are:

Option 1

* $17 per month with no limit to quantity of solid waste

* 64-gallon recycling containers provided by the vendor

* Residents provide their own solid-waste containers

* Yard waste and bulk items collected at no additional charge

Option 2

* $17 per month with solid waste limited to contents of container

* 64-gallon recycling containers provided by the vendor

* 64- or 96-gallon solid-waste containers provided by the vendor

* Unlimited solid waste following Fourth of July and Christmas holidays

* Yard waste and bulk items collected at no additional charge

Option 3

* $17.50 per month with no limit to quantity of solid waste

* 64-gallon recycling containers provided by the vendor

* 64- or 96-gallon solid-waste containers provided by the vendor

* Yard waste and bulk items collected at no additional charge

According to information from the city, household solid-waste costs vary widely, based on the number of stickers used, but residents who use an average of one sticker per week currently pay $214.80 per year for solid waste disposal.

Speight said whatever council decides, city officials are hopeful it will result in better, streamlined collections.

She added that a new approach to trash collection should also make the program self-funded and eliminate the city's need to supplement trash and recycling services with money from the operating budget.

City subsidies

In 2015, before the annual trash fee was increased, former Finance Director Cathe Armstrong said the city shelled out $239,540 from the operating budget to cover a deficit for the program.

"There (currently) is no real incentive for the solid-waste crews to ensure household compliance -- correct number of stickers, keeping trash out of recycling, etc. -- and the current use of all manner of containers for recycling, in particular, results in a lot of unnecessary litter across the community on windy days," she said. "Additionally, the current approach has repeatedly failed to meet its self-funded mandate, requiring supplemental monies from the general fund most years.

"Staff and council agreed that the time was right to explore current best practices so that the bidding process for a new contract would provide the city with viable options to consider."

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