Council considers once/week backdoor trash pickup

“Please don’t slay the messenger,” Interim City Manager Ed Wyatt said as he introduced the topic of sanitation to the Henderson City Council during its work session on Monday, March 24, 2008.

Wyatt said that he knows sanitation is a “very touchy subject,” but added that “how you do it is sometimes more important than what you do”.

The interim city manager said that staff’s first suggestion was to go to once per week backdoor trash pickup. He said that it would result in a “modest” $2-$3 reduction, but also said that it was cost avoidance due to rising fuel prices.

Public Works Director Linda Leyen said that the city is currently paying $3.42 per gallon for diesel fuel, without tax.

Wyatt said that going to a front yard pickup system and “buying all of those cans” is a very substantial decision that needs to be thought through, and that it should not be done impulsively.

Assistant City Manager Frank Frazier said that he believed there would be a need to increase costs to meet rising fuel costs if service is left as it is.

Frazier said that he believes the city can perform the service very well with one day per week backdoor pickup. He said that he would like to have curbside collection as a goal, but that he does not want to rush into it in a “haphazard” manner.

The assistant city manager added that he believes that the city “moved too quickly” in the past. He said that the city needs to make its case that [curbside trash collection] is the right thing to do and the he felt that citizens would accept it.

Council member Michael Inscoe asked what the increase would be if the collection service remained at the current level. Frazier said that he did not know the particular dollar figure, but that he could put it in a monthly figure.

Council member Mary Emma Evans asked if customers would have to make any changes with once per week pickup. Leyen said that they may have to buy another trash can to hold a week’s worth of garbage.

Member Lonnie Davis characterized the proposal as “not a reduction in service, just less pickup”.

Henderson Mayor Pete O’Geary said that he hasn’t heard anyone complain about it, but rather “most think change is a good idea”.

Frazier reminded the council of concerns about the safety of those collecting trash.