Commissioners divided over single trash hauler

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The Springfield News-Sun provides complete coverage of city government, including recent stories on changes to the city’s abandoned lot mowing procedures and improvements at the wastewater treatment plant.

By the numbers

44,000: Tons of recyclables collected by residential and commercial entities in Clark County in 2013.

49,000: Tons of recyclables collected by residential and commercial entities in Clark County in 2011.

5: Number of trash haulers who collect trash in the city of Springfield.

Some Springfield officials feel a single trash hauler in the city could increase recycling and reduce wear and tear on roadways, but others are opposed to the idea.

City Commissioner Karen Duncan wants to revisit the idea of a single hauler for Springfield. She says four local trash haulers and two recycling trucks drive down her street each Monday, which causes undue wear and tear.

However, those opposed warn that a single hauler could eliminate competition in the market for consumers.

With the city streets already in bad shape, contracting with a single hauler becomes even more of an issue, Duncan said. She added that the concept would also increase recycling in Springfield, which has one of the lowest rates in Ohio.

“There’s no question statistically from anything you read about recycling, it’s easier for people to recycle with a single hauler,” Duncan said.

Other commissioners, however, believe the city should focus on other issues. The number of trash haulers in Springfield shows the people want choices, said City Commissioner Kevin O’Neill. He’s not in favor of contracting with a single hauler. Citizens who want to recycle take their items to the recycling facilities throughout the county, he said.

“It’s not broken and I don’t think we need to fix it,” O’Neill said.

If commissioners decided to pursue a single-hauler system, it would ultimately be decided by voters, who must change the city charter. The topic was discussed during the Clark County Solid Waste District’s annual report to city commissioners last week.

The city currently has five haulers collecting trash in the city: Waste Management, Rumpke, H.W. Mann and Sons, Vince Refuse and First Choice Disposal. Both H.W. Mann and Vince are based in Clark County. All offer curbside recycling, but the programs vary by hauler and location.

Recycling participation will increase dramatically if it’s easier for people to put items in a bin on the curb along with trash cans, Duncan said.

“The easier it is, the more people put out there (on the curb),” Duncan said.

Duncan wants to investigate both the pros and the cons of the issue.

“It’s not without a downside,” Duncan said. “It needs to be looked at and weighed in terms of what’s the best thing for the whole city, for everybody in the city of Springfield.”

The contract with a single hauler would reduce truck traffic, as well as allow for recycling to be built into the contract, said Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland. While some haulers would lose business, the contract would be bid out every few years to give different haulers a shot at the city’s business, he added.

“It’s got to be more efficient than having four or five different haulers,” Copeland said. “You’ve got to be able to get a better price for the people.”

With only one hauler to choose from, there’s no competitiveness in the marketplace for consumers, said City Commissioner Dan Martin. He likened it to local cable service.

Martin is skeptical of the idea, but would be willing to look over numbers for a single hauler proposal.

“You’re at the mercy of that provider, not just in terms of price, but also customer service and satisfaction,” he said. “I tend to favor people being able to have the choice of who they want to pick as a garbage hauler.”

City Commissioner Joyce Chilton said she is still researching the issue.

The Solid Waste District would be supportive of the city’s contracting with a single hauler, said Director Chuck Bauer.

“We would love to work with the city any way we can,” Bauer told commissioners.

H.W. Mann does a lot of business within the city limits, said owner Kim Mann.

“I don’t have an exact percentage, but it’s quite a bit,” Mann said.

The business offers recycling in some areas, but with one recycling truck, it’s limited to certain areas, Mann added.

Residential and commercial recycling has decreased in Clark County recently. In 2013, about 44,000 tons were recycled by residential and commercial entities, down from 49,000 in 2011. About 50 percent of that recycling comes from yard waste facilities.

Springfield resident Betty Mack wrote a letter to city commissioners earlier this month about the number of trash trucks driving past her home on Northwood Avenue on trash day each Friday. The three haulers are doing even more damage to the street, which already needs repaired, she said. A single hauler will reduce the amount of traffic and reduce cost for families, Mack wrote.

“I’ve felt that way for a long time,” Mack said.