Big rubbish topic for the BE Council | News, Sports, Jobs

Blue Earth City Council considered a reformed method of garbage collection at a meeting held on Monday, July 18.

Blue Earth currently uses open-air garbage collection, where residents and businesses are free to contract with any licensed garbage collector. However, a few weeks ago the city council began weighing the benefits of organized collection, where the city allows a specified collector to collect in a defined service area.

The discussion arose out of concerns about the wear and tear of large garbage trucks on city streets. Organized collection could mitigate the size and number of garbage trucks that pass through Blue Earth daily by limiting the areas served by specific carriers.

Currently, various pockets of the city are served by Waste Management Inc, B&B Sanitation, and Hometown Sanitation. While Waste Management serves approximately 50% of the city, B&B and Hometown each serve 25% of the city.

City Administrator Mary Kennedy pointed out the pros and cons of the organized collection at the July 5 city council meeting.

She noted that organized collection generally lowers the price paid for collection per household, lessens the impact of truck traffic on city streets, and standardizes service. On the other hand, however, organized collection eliminates residents’ ability to choose their collector and increases the city’s administrative involvement in collection services.

Kennedy explained that the city would have to follow a specific procedure to implement organized collection, which would involve negotiations with each of the city’s current contractors.

“You’re supposed to come to an agreement that preserves their market share,”City Attorney David Frundt supplemented.

On July 5, the council passed a motion asking Kennedy to continue his research into organized collecting. As such, Kennedy shared feedback on Monday from four cities that are already using curated collection.

She said cities have identified several benefits of organized collection, including the city’s ability to control prices, less road wear and a cleaner community. However, a few cities mentioned communication problems between the city and the contracted garbage haulers.

Kennedy also noted, “These are favorable comments, but it is a limited pool of responses. If we did a bigger poll, I don’t know what the answers would be.

Mayor Rick Scholtes pointed out that organized collection would likely still result in the city having three carriers under contract.

“Because they have a share right now – a market share – we have to negotiate with all three,”Scholtes explained, adding that the city could have a contract with all three at a fixed rate.

The system could still be beneficial, as organized collection would allow the city to assign a single carrier to each section. This would reduce the number of garbage trucks crossing the streets of Blue Earth each day.

Council member Marty Cassem asked if council could stipulate the type of use of truck carriers.

Frundt replied “We can. Whether they agree or not, that’s the question.

The council also asked Bolton & Menk engineer Ben Rosol whether Blue Earth’s newly improved streets will have improved weight capacity, making them better equipped to handle large refuse trucks.

Rosol responded that the streets are designed with this intent, although he will work to produce exact calculations showing the impact garbage trucks will have on the streets.

City Council agreed to continue discussing the pros and cons of organized collection in the future.

In other matters, the Blue Earth City Council:

• Completed a first reading of an ordinance amending the definition of farm animals in the Blue Earth City Code. The new draft ordinance makes it clear that chickens and bees do not fall under the city’s definition of farm animals.

A motion to schedule a second reading of the amended ordinance passed by a 5-to-1 vote, with Scholtes voting in opposition.

• Approved the drafting of an order for the sale of a lot on Main Street to Blue Earth resident Noel Johnson for $1,000.

• Approved donations to the Town of Blue Earth in the amount of $5,802.72.

Jessica C. Bell