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Council reconsidering trash issue

Jun 5, 2014 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

The Riverton City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to reconsider its May 20 decision requiring residents to use rollout containers instead of alley dumpsters for trash collection.

Last month's decision had been made due to changes through the Fremont County Solid Waste Disposal District. The FCSWDD had notified the city that the Riverton baling station would only be open five days per week instead of seven in order to operate more efficiently.

In response, city staff proposed the rollout requirement and said they would offer sanitation services to residents four days per week instead of five.

The change was not intended to affect yard waste, and it would only be applied to residential or duplex garbage pickup -- not multi-family homes.

On Tuesday, council members asked staff to look into several other options. For example, city employees will calculate the impacts of a 10-hour daily work schedule for employees in the streets and sanitation department. They also will consider allowing rollouts to be picked up in alleys instead of street-side, and they will look into privatizing sanitation services in Riverton.

Mayor Ron Warpness thanked all residents who attended Tuesday's meeting to speak about the issue.

"You've given us a lot to think about," he said. "I think anything that we can do to keep our community clean of garbage we should do."

Not a budget issue

Several residents came before the city council Tuesday to comment that they were not in favor of the requirement to use only rollouts. Several people mentioned that, with a tight city budget, they didn't see how this change would save the city money.

City administrator Steven Weaver clarified that this change was not steered by a budget issue.

"The solution that the staff was presenting was really an efficiency thing," Weaver said.

If the city picks up garbage only four days per work week, Weaver explained, streets and alleys employees can use the fifth day to perform other tasks. In addition, the streets and alleys department will not require the two new employees that have been requested this year.

"We wouldn't have to hire them," Weaver said.

Older residents

Resident Betty Malicki told the council the elderly population in the city expressed a "fear of handling and moving" the 90-gallon rollouts. She also said the rollouts were not reliable because they can break easily and are often blown away -- even when they contain garbage.

"The wind will blow them over and there's garbage all over," she said, adding that empty bins could be found down the block.

Weaver said residents who can't handle a large rollout could instead be provided with a smaller, 45-gallon container. He said people who use the 45-gallon rollout while agreeing to recycle only pay $23 per month for sanitation services. A person using a 90-gallon rollout pays about $32, but if the resident agrees to recycle he or she will only pay $26. If a household uses an alley dumpster, the residents pay about $33 monthly.

Malicki suggested considering a private enterprise to take over sanitation services. Weaver responded that that option could cost more money and limit the amount of garbage being collected.

"They do not pick up green waste, and they do not pick up recyclables," he said of the private company Waste Management Inc., which serves the city of Lander. "Right now we don't charge for those services, those are just tacked on to your current rate."

Judy Woolery, who resides on the 500 block of 16th Street, echoed Malicki's comments and said it would be dangerous for elderly people to handle the 90-gallon bins. She also expressed discontent with the city for not having a public forum on the topic.

"I've been on the recycling program for three years now," she said. "I have tried to do my part, so it's time the city does their part."

Some sections in Riverton were specifically designed for alley dumpsters, Woolery said. She suggested the city allow residents to place their rollouts in those alleys for pickup.

"We have not ruled that completely out," Weaver said. "If there are certain neighborhoods where it doesn't work for people to go on the front, we can pick up in the alleys."

Donna Linnell said the rollouts look "ugly" and do not align with the council's goal to make Riverton more attractive.

Other residents asked the city to figure out how much time it takes the sanitation truck to collect an individual rollout compared to an alley container, which is used by more than one household.

Acting public works director Dawn Willhelm said drivers using the city's two newest garbage trucks could pick up 100 rollouts in an hour, with one stop to the baling station at the end of the day.

The city's older garbage trucks -- which only pick up alley containers -- on average collect trash from about 36 dumpsters over the course of an hour and require two to three trips to the baling station in a day.

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Riverton City Council