Recycling proposal costs concern someA presentation regarding city curbside pickup of recyclables was met with many concerns Wednesday.
A presentation regarding city curbside pickup of recyclables was met with many concerns Wednesday.
The biggest included the expense to the taxpayer and the lack of incentive to participate coupled with questionable savings to the city.
In December, the city of Jamestown decided to request bids for a curbside pickup program. The program would allow residents to separate recyclable materials from garbage and crews would collect them.
Currently, individuals and businesses haul recyclables to Renaissance Recycling in downtown Jamestown and sort the materials themselves.
The city’s Finance and Legal Committee reviewed the sole bid from Ralph Freibel at a special meeting Wednesday.
Friebel, who owns Renaissance Recycling, has said the current process is time consuming and inconvenient. Curbside pickup wouldn’t require residents to sort material. A resident’s only obligation is to separate trash from recyclables.
Friebel offered various rates of service to the city based on length of contract, risk to the city and other factors. The one most discussed was $4.80 per household, per month for five years regardless of the commodity prices of recyclable materials like glass, paper, cardboard, etc.
That price tag seemed high to Mayor Katie Andersen. The current garbage bill for residences is about $10 per household per month. A nearly 50 percent increase is “significant,” she said.
“We have to consider pretty seriously the effect that’s going to have on the people who pay those fees,” she said.
The $4.80 is the overall cost. The net cost to residences is about $4 once Renaissance Recycling’s $5,000 per month subsidy is eliminated, which would be the case if the proposal is passed.
But $4 or even $3 per month still seemed high, Andersen said.
In a 2010 survey generated by the Jamestown Recycling Task Force to gauge interest in a curbside pickup program, about 75 percent of the 1,200 respondents would be willing to pay $4 or more a month. In a separate survey, Jamestown College students provided bins and picked up recyclables for six weeks. In their follow-up survey, about 98 percent of the participants said the city should establish curbside pick up. They also found that slightly more than 64 percent of them would be willing to pay a small fee, according to Jamestown Sun reports.
But $4.80 seemed high to members of the task force Wednesday. The state average for curbside recycling in other communities is about $3. Although they favored curbside pickup, task force members said $4.80 was too high given in other communities, it’s less expensive.
Task force member Joan Morris questioned why only one business submitted a proposal. Based on information she gathered from other businesses and communities, she theorized that the city’s request for proposals asked for unnecessary requirements. Those requirements make the curbside recycling program more expensive to residents.
The city’s request for proposals is based off of a recycling program in a Minnesota city. Minnesota has stricter recycling requirements than North Dakota.
Morris suggested the city modify the request for proposals in hopes the city would receive more bids and a lower price for taxpayers.
“The bottom line is, I think we need to really go back to the RFP (request for proposal) itself and ask why there was only one vendor that bid,” she said.
And the city may. Not only to lessen the requirements, but also because curbside pickup saves the city an insignificant amount of money and because under the current system, residents aren’t obligated to comply.
What would save money and incentivize residents is a pay-as-you-throw-type garbage system, officials say. That system would charge garbage fees based on volume, rather than the current flat $10 or so fee. Recyclable materials wouldn’t count toward the fee, so by recycling, the resident is charged less.
Friebel supported pay-as-you-throw, saying it would increase volume to his recycling center.
“I think that you should do that, but I’m not sure you’re prepared to do that,” he said.
City Engineer Reed Schwartzkopf supported it too. A combination of curbside pickup with a pay-as-you-throw-type system provides the maximum benefit.
The committee made no motion at Wednesday’s meeting. It will consider the proposal at an upcoming meeting.
Sun reporter Katie Ryan-Anderson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by e-mail at email@example.com