Single Hauler Garbage Concept Presented to Public
Last updated 8/7/2019 at 1:17pm | View PDF
City of Fountain officials with representatives of CONO hosted a meeting on July 17 to gather feedback from local residents about the concept of considering a single hauler garbage and recycling service program in Fountain. Many left the meeting with even more questions than they had when arriving. City staff assured them that once they have more data and numbers to present, there will be another public meeting to share that information.
City officials explained they are looking at options of going to a city-wide single hauler services for garbage and recyclables to save residents money and to save residential streets but cutting down on the wear and tear caused by having multiple haulers traveling through the city each week. This would not apply to commercial hauling or multi-family units like apartments.
Deputy City Manager Todd Evans said that when city council gave staff a list of priorities streets were one of the biggest. Rather than have too many staff members making the decisions, a community group was formed, with representatives of different areas of the city.
It started in August 2017, with former Chamber of Commerce President and Economic Development Committee member Jennifer Herzberg, who was working on her master’s degree and was interested in creating a project to help with city infrastructure needs.
“We told her that streets were our biggest need and she did a fantastic job running the project and group. As we saw the effectiveness of her project, I asked if she would continue and we reached out to people, from each zone, that are active with other groups as volunteers,” Evans said.
Joining Herzberg for Zone 1 is Ken Lippincott. Representing Zone 2 is Darrell Couch and Suzanne Foster and for Zone 3 Bryan Johnson and Councilmember Richard Applegate.
Evans said they were approached because all had been involved in various capacities in the city. Johnson was heavily involved in the Moving Fountain Forward program.
For more information about the group and this project you can visit the website at https://www.fountaincolorado.org/residents/about_fountain_/moving_fountain_forward/fountain_roadway_focus_group
You can also email the group at [email protected]
Evans said involving citizens’ increases communication and transparency and heightened community engagement. He said the group has hosted community meetings, conducted surveys online and at the Trunk or Treat, for example.
Evans told the numerous residents in attendance that Fountain has 110 miles of roads and the maintenance budget is $110,000. He explained there is 400,000 for resurfacing and also pointed out the Moving Fountain Forward initiative (which has brought in 1 million for capital projects) would be sunsetting this year. (Although city council is set to consider putting a request on the ballot this November asking to extend that tax, as well as seeking additional monies).
Evans said estimates indicate the cost to rebuild Link Road (the southern section) will be $7,000,000 and grant requests have been put in to hopefully help with all that. He also explained the recent rebuild on the north end of Link was paid for by the landfill to the tune of $4,000,000. He said that road was built up to “I-25 standards” to handle the heavy trash trucks coming to and from the landfill.
He said the quiet zones (for railroads) were the biggest priority of capital projects but it has been very expensive to do. He estimates it will cost $3 to $3-1/2 million for the Indiana upgrade. When voters approved the Moving Fountain Forward ballot measure there was no bonding to go a long with it so the city has had to save up money over time to complete the projects, however costs to do so went up each year as well.
“For capital projects we get a million a year,” he shared. He also said to rebuild one mile of road it costs $1,200,000.
He gave the example that to rebuild the roads in the Heritage neighborhood it would cost $7,000.000.
Evans said at the root of the problem is the fact when the roads were originally built the city didn’t have an inspector; it was a “one-man shop.” He went on to explain that the city has had its own inspector now, the last three years.
“We can’t go back and change what was done 20 years ago,” adding that it would just be throwing money at the root problem without getting anywhere.
He said the city was in the process of sending out Request for Proposal/Request for Information to get better facts and figures.
City Attorney Troy Johnson then gave a presentation he complied after he originally began researching the legality of the idea. He said it’s not all-encompassing but rather compared it to helping to plug a hole in a rowboat, to hopefully fix the root of the problem. He said he researched the law and what other cities had done.
He said other cities have found it decreased the prices to residents in other cities and engaged the audience to help fill in a list of pros and cons he had begun.
Pros included reduce damage to streets, reduce environmental impact, reduce nuisance (of multiple truck traffic), lower prices, allow for increase in recycling options, fewer trash cans on sidewalks.
Cons included eliminating freedom of choice, change is rough, this will force out competition, what if rates go up, and recycling.
Some residents indicated they liked who they had and would rather pay a little more to keep them.
Business owner Fran Carrick said she likes to support those who do business with her and she was happy with her present company.
It was then explained that if not selected as the official hauler, other trash service providers could still continue to serve residents but would have to be approved through a permit system that would involve a fee. If passed on it might cost customers even more.
Additional concerns expressed included: what if people just start dumping their trash on roads, this could impact the environment. What about the losses of jobs for those who wouldn’t get the contract? Dawn Harnick asked what about all the other heavy vehicles that travel Fountain’s roads- will this carry over to them, too? She also shared the results of a survey she conducted on NextDoor, with 171 votes. 65% said no, 11% were unsure and 25% said yes.
Supportive comments included fewer trucks could reduce the carbon emissions that contribute to air pollution and may affect water quality with fewer drops of oil on streets etc.
Johnson then gave a presentation with photos explaining when trash trucks hit their brakes, due to the weight of vehicles, it can cause damage to the streets. He showed a photo depicting the type of road damage he was describing, however later Chris Pyle, general manager of Waste Systems, Inc. in Security asked what street that was. When Johnson answered, Pyle quickly pointed out the street was in an HOA (Cross Creek) that already had a single hauler system operating there, stating he felt that showed this theory was inaccurate.
There was also talk of the single hauler paying a franchise fee, that would be charged by the city and earmarked for road maintenance.
When asked by long-time resident Mary Koepp what it would cost her, expressing this could be taxation without representation, Evans answer there would not be an increase in work for the city administration, as the trash company selected would do its own billing. He said the seven companies presently hauling in Fountain are not paying for the streets they damage. “You are paying for it,” he added.
Johnson said they would give a lot of time for transition; it would be a slow fade in period. It was explained the HOAs (Home Owner Associations) that exist in Fountain already do this.
Pyle said they are the hauler for HOA for High Gate said that while HOA’s get a discounted rate, they only deal with one bill, the HOA. They don’t have to individually bill all the various residents of that neighborhood. And, he added, they aren’t charged a fee to kick back additional funds into the HOA which could be part of a single hauler trash system. He said if streets are built incorrectly from the dirt up that is one of the biggest issues. The asphalt topping isn’t the main issue.
He said if the city didn’t have an inspector to approve the streets when they were originally cut, it’s not on the residents to fix this- and doesn’t agree with taking away their choice of trash haulers. He also pointed out there are older roads in Security/Widefield that are not crumbling in most areas.
His father, Joe Pyle also countered Johnson’s allegations that trash trucks only drive down the right side of roads, stopping to pick up from homes on the left and the right at each stop. He said his trucks are side loaders, so they use both sides of the road. He said 95% of haulers use both sides of the street. He said if it was really about saving streets perhaps the city should consider which company would do the least damage. The costs of hauling could increase year after year and likely the contractor who is selected would want to raise rates accordingly.
This newspaper’s editor, Patricia St. Louis, asked about the possibility of selecting more than one hauler, as to not necessarily put any individual company out of business. She cited that WSI originally started in the late 50s/early 60s and was one of the first businesses in Security. She referenced a clause of reaching out for bids to those who are locally owned/operated.
In conclusion Streets Focus Group leader Herzberger said this was just a blip on the groups’ radar. She said they are trying to be transparent and this meeting was one example. They continue to gather data. She said they also were looking into other financing mechanisms and want more meetings like this.
Evans concluded by stating, “If it doesn’t make fiscal sense, we won’t do it.”