9 months ago by Bob Gough
I have two out of 14 responses from the members of the Quincy City Council regarding solving the garbage and recycling problem.
They both support privatization, which is a no-brainer (did I say that?).
I anxiously await to hear from the remaining dozen:
This is a part of a reply I sent to a constituent, I have modified it somewhat but it states my views on the garbage issue, sorry for the length. Please forgive my cut and paste but this illustrates my feelings on the issue as well as anything. I do ask, if you use all or part of this let people know I did send this in an e-mail to a resident, full disclosure.
My preferred course would be a complete privatization of waste hauling. I would vote to simply pick a day, with ample warning and planning, to stop this as a City service, in total, and allow residents to contract with licensed waste haulers for service directly. Full privatization would allow people to pick their level of service, to recycle or not, their preferred tote size or no tote, frequency etc. and at a cost they are comfortable with. It also allows companies that are much more efficient than the City to supply the service. It would allow the City to stick to areas of service that citizens can not get anywhere else, i.e police and fire protection, infrastructure maintenance, that we are more efficient at providing.
Failing my preferred course, looking at the financial outlook for Quincy, I would support the program originally proposed by the Mayor. A City wide contract with a private hauler, billed by the City. The program proposed actually allows for more recycling as additional items, i.e. glass, expanded plastics, would be accepted and a larger recycling tote employed. The program would cost residents a fixed $13.20 per month for a period of ten years, no surprises for us residents and fixed financials for all involved. It is not true privatization as I see it, but a step in the right direction. This option would, for the most part, take the City out of the business of waste removal.
The problem I have with the most recent proposal, raise stickers and charge a fee to haulers, is that it fixes nothing, it is another band aid approach to addressing the real issues and challenges we face. We will have to escalate sticker prices every year to keep up financially and it does nothing to curb future legacy cost. Not to mention that, at some point, we all have to decide what services the City can and should provide. We have an aging infrastructure that will require additional and escalating investment of funds just to keep up with maintenance, not to mention major street repairs that are needed and we lack the funds to address those repairs. Do we lower the level of Police and Fire protection? We have CSO sewer issues that could cost us tens of millions of dollars fix, how do we pay for that? It is clear that to continue handling City affairs as we have in the past is unacceptable moving forward. We have to look for new ways to provide and pay for services the City is best at without breaking the bank or taxing ourselves at unsustainable levels. Changing how we do garbage may not be "the" answer but it is an answer and a step towards addressing financial issues and prioritizing what services the City is to provide in the future
I also feel that recycling is very important both for the environmental side and from a financial side. One thing I think that has been overlooked is fact that any private hauler option actually expands the list of recyclable material, namely glass and expanded plastics. Granted the major incentive to recycle may be reduced, but I believe many people, like myself, would continue to recycle as much as we can, if recycling is available I will use it.
I do not see any compelling reason for the program to stay as it is. The city should manage the contract of a private hauler. We should be able to provide 2 different rate schemes, (large and small amounts). Garbage and recycle wheeled totes should be provided.
This should be subsidized by the grf (General Revenue Fund-BG), but perhaps by a smaller amount than currently.
In comparison, this approach is cheaper, healthier, safer, and more attractive than rat control.
I know this is a big change and most people abhor change. But it will be ok. You will grow accustomed to the new way of doing away with your garbage. This approach is necessary. What we have today is no longer going to work. The cost structure is unsustainable. The risk of injury is too great. We are not pioneers here. This process is being implemented all across America. This approach is state of the art and best practice.