Sanitation choices flap in the wind like a plastic bag
KINGMAN - If the Kingman Sanitation Department moved to once-a-week trash collection, customers could save nearly $2 a month but would likely lose the EZ recycling program and the extra haul service.
A decision to move to once-a-week pickup would mean no more 300-gallon, alley-shared containers, which already have a tendency to overflow as is, said Ed Tapia, sanitation director. If alley containers are done away with, each 300-gallon container would need to be replaced with three 90-gallon cans, and all customers would need to place those on curbs, he said.
The consequences of that are two-fold. First, additional time per route would be required to pick up the extra cans, and second, 2,643 90-gallon cans would need to be purchased, Tapia said.
Another thing to consider when debating whether or not to move to once-a-week pickup is that many customers would need an extra container as well. That would mean 4,000 new containers would need to be purchased, Tapia said.
The combination of the share container replacements and the purchase of additional cans needed for residents carries a price tag of over $350,000, he said.
The consequences, however, do not stop at cost. Customer service would take a hit as well, Tapia explained. Calls would come in for missed or late containers and refilled containers customers claim were missed. Also, drivers would need to get out of their trucks and pick up additional bags, which Tapia said would delay route times.
There are eight residential drivers, who each pick up 682 containers on average per day, Tapia said. With all the additional containers, about eight routes would need to
Can the city manage more trash containers on curbs?
Street-parked cars already pose obstacles for trash pickup, Tapia said. Now imagine doubling the cans for about 40 percent of sanitation customers. There is not enough room for street parking and additional containers, Tapia said.
The city would likely need to create an ordinance that makes it illegal to park cars on the street on trash days.
This would cause enforcement issues, but without an ordinance, there would be an increased risk of accidents, he said.
Since dropping service in half would suggest the need to cut the number of drivers in half, it is likely that a minimum of two and possibly four full-time employees would need to be laid off, Tapia said. This would put additional pressure on the remaining drivers and possibly force sanitation to eliminate the recycling program and the extra haul service, Tapia said.
The current residential rate is $19.78. With the elimination of four full-time employees and the purchase of additional containers, there would be a 1.49-percent increase in 2011-12 expenses, which translates to a $20.07 rate for customers.
Savings would not kick in till the next year, and they would amount to a $17.81 rate for customers - a savings of nearly $2 per customer per month, Tapia said.
There are about 10,000 customer accounts, which would bring savings to nearly $20,000 a month and $240,000 per year.
Tapia gave a comprehensive presentation detailing what a once-a-week trash pickup would mean for Kingman, how the EZ recycling program is going and what the city's extra haul service is up to at a recent City Council meeting.
In 2010, 856.2 tons of recyclable material were collected and diverted for a tipping savings - the price the landfill charges Kingman to dump its trash there - of nearly $28,700. This savings works out to over $33 per ton, Tapia explained.
The department expects a 10-percent increase in that number for 2011.
The program started in 2008, features six drop sites and two full-time employees who collect and sort recyclables daily. It costs about $34,000 to run, but the city made nearly $36,000 from savings and commodities. That means the recycling program made a profit of nearly $2,000, which makes it self-supporting, Tapia explained.
The extra haul service is multi-faceted.
There is the bulk pickup service, which allows sanitation customers to call the department and ask for a couch - or something of that nature - to be picked up.
This service occurs on Wednesdays and costs customers $15. The amount of bulk garbage cannot exceed five cubic yards, which Tapia said is a normal sized pickup truck's bed filled to the brim.
The department picks up anything from tree limbs to furniture, but it draws the line at debris from a demolished house, he said.
Next, there are the $3 spring and fall cleanups. The sanitation department has conducted 294 of these pickups so far this year, Tapia said.
Lastly, there are the abatements, which are a big problem in Kingman.
When people decide to dump their garbage in a commercial property's alleyway or another person's yard or receptacle, the sanitation department picks it up free of charge for the victim.
Tapia calls this type of debris deviance, "Hit and run."
"Picking this garbage up is a must do," Tapia said. "The consequences of not picking it up would be a filthy city."
It costs the city over $55,000 to run the extra haul service, and that is with billing revenue factored in.
Tapia said the abatements make up nearly two-thirds of the city's extra haul expenses.
In Tapia's opinion, moving to once-a-week pickup is unrealistic.
If he had his way, customers would have a trash container and a recycling receptacle that would each get picked up once a week, which is similar to Lake Havasu City's program.
"I've got a great crew. Whatever it takes, we're going to get it done," Tapia said. "But is a $2 savings per month worth losing programs over?"