Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cape Girardeau Council Approves Automated Trash Collection

Cape Girardeau will move ahead with plans to automate trash collection, the city council decided Monday evening.

By the end of April, if everything goes as planned, the city will distribute almost 11,000 new 64-gallon trash cans and 11,000 96-gallon recycling bins to every resident using city garbage service. The council voted to move ahead with preparing for the switch, including new ordinances that would be needed to direct the program.

During a presentation to the council, Public Works Department director Tim Gramling said the switch will mean fewer injuries among sanitation workers and give the city the ability to deal with a growing population without expanding the fleet of trash trucks.

The city initially began looking at reworking trash pickup as a way to save money. Other, simpler ideas could have saved more in the first years after automation, Gramling said, but residents would see services diminished.

The move to automation is expected to save the city trash service about $21,000 in the first year. Changing the recycling pickup to once every two weeks from the current system of weekly pickups would have saved almost $52,000.

But that savings wouldn't provide the other benefits an automated system would offer, Gramling said. The switch will provide long-term stability for the trash division budget and should mean no additional trucks or sanitation workers for 10 to 15 years, he said.

"It wasn't just about saving money," he said.

In addition, by purchasing a fleet of replacement trucks financed by bonds, the trash division budget will be able to repay the city general fund about $200,000 of the division's outstanding debt. That money is needed for reserves that have been depleted by five years of spending more than the city received in revenue.

And, city manager Scott Meyer said, the new program will be easier to deal with both for residents and the city workers. "It is going to be a better process," he said.

The city currently allows every residential trash customer to put two 35-gallon trash cans on the curb. Recyclables must be separated before being placed at the curb. If a resident needs to put out additional trash, the city sells stickers for $1 each that must be on the garbage bag to be removed.

Under the program being proposed, each home would get free replacement trash cans, but the sticker program would be eliminated. The city will likely offer an option of allowing a second 64-gallon trash can, Gramling said, but the monthly charge would be doubled for that residence.

(Read more at: http://www.semissourian.com/story/1580063.html)

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