Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Proposed Trash System
Question 1: What is wrong with the current system?
Answer: The new equipment will offer a more efficient process of trash collection. Trash can be collected more quickly and with less risk of employee injury, saving both unavoidable overtime and workers’ compensation costs. Many people don’t think about the fact that employees lifting heavy amounts of trash, hundreds of times a day, every work day, tends to destroy that employee physically. Over time, injuries occur from over taxing muscles and the skeletal system, even for the most-fit employee. By placing that heavy repetitive movement on a machine, the burden is removed from an employee. It also removes the likelihood of coming into contact with other factors that could bring harm like poisons, bio-hazards, drug needles, etc. The City (and every employer) has a responsibility to it’s workers to provide a safe working environment.
Question 2: If alleys are difficult to access, or unduly littered, why aren't existing ordinances enforced?
Answer: As of the council meeting in August, a notice was provided by the City Manager that enforcement will be more consistently and rapidly after December 1st. The reason for the December 1st date is to allow citizens to clean their properties immediately without possible action from the City. The Automated System will be performed with 96 gallon containers with attached lids, which will greatly reduce the amount of trash that is blown around uncontained as well as keeping animals from tearing into trash bags and spreading debris. This is true whether the containers are on the curb or in the alley.
Question 3: Are the alleys to be abandoned by the city to become jungles of weeds & refuse & pests?
Answer: No, the alleys will not be abandoned as they are still needed to provide access to utility companies. Again, stricter enforcement of the City Ordinances will keep the alleys from becoming “jungles”.
Question 4: What will become of the large & expensive trucks currently in use?
Answer: The current collection equipment will be sold to other cities that are not yet providing automated collection. The trucks currently in use, although still functioning, are well past their life expectancy and are in need of replacement. They are costing the city more and more each year due to the breakdowns and costs of repairs. Rather than replacing them with the non-automated version we will be replacing them with the automated trucks.
Question 5: Will there be a loss of jobs for some of the current workers?
Answer: No employee will lose their job, although there will be less need for employees to be assigned to trash collection due to the automated trucks. Those employees will be transferred to other positions, some required/created due to the new automated system.
Question 6: Will the cost of the new system be rolled over to the citizens to pay?
Answer: No, the money for the new automated system has been building over the last several years and is set aside specifically to purchase the new trucks and the carts. No additional increase to the utility bill will be a result of this system.
There will be an increase to the rate for business customers. HOWEVER, this rate increase is not as a result of this Automated system. That rate hike was determined by the Rate Review Board for Cochise County to meet the costs of transferring the collected trash to Phoenix. The rate increase was voted to cover both commercial and residential rates. I have decided not to bring an increase for residential rates at this time.
Question 7: Who first proposed these changes?
Answer: The Mayor and Council authorized a study to be done in 2005 to consider the need for this conversion. Two years ago, the City began setting aside a portion of the utility fees for the purpose of purchasing the automated trucks and containers, to eventually incorporate the Automated process.
Question 8: What was the count of votes for & against these changes?
Council vote was unanimously in favor of the new automated system for the first two readings.
Question 9: What entities are bidding for the sale of containers & new vehicles to the city?
Both items are purchased from a state-wide contract that eliminates the need of individual bidding. The Co-op places the request for bid through the state, to obtain best pricing for all municipalities, we get the benefit of using that Co-operative.
Question 10: What about the elderly or disabled that cannot physically wheel a 96 gallon trash container to the curb?
Answer: The City currently has a program in place to assist the disabled and elderly if they have no other means of getting their trash to the collection site. If a disabled or elderly person is not capable of wheeling their trash cart to the curb, they can notify the Utilities office and request assistance. The city employee will then make a stop at the residence, move the can to the truck, dump it and return it to the house, free of charge. Currently, there are less than 20 citizens that are meeting the requirement for this special service.
Question 11: I have no driveway and only street parking. How can I set my trash to the front curb and still have a place to park?
Answer: It is true that there are streets that will make it difficult at best to collect trash from the front curb. The City staff is creating a map of those areas and trash collection will continue as an alley pick up site. This will only be available to those residences that have no other alternative. Moving through the alley with these trucks will be much slower and less efficient than curb side collection.
As always, i welcome your questions. Please feel free to contact my office.
Jim Russell - City Manager