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Published: Wednesday, 7/6/2011

Trash and cash

The Bell administration’s decision to shift responsibility for trash collection in Toledo to Lucas County, and the county’s decision to hire a private company to do the work, constitute the latest example of a regional approach to providing public services. The plan offers Toledoans the appealing prospect of better refuse and recycling services at a lower cost.

Mayor Mike Bell told The Blade’s editorial board that the city previously spent as much as $7 million a year to subsidize its trash collection program. Once the new plan is fully in place by Sept. 1, he says, he expects it to save the city $2.8 million this year. The county faces no additional costs.

Most city households will pay $8.95 a month for trash pickup, 45 cents more than they pay now. Elderly ratepayers who qualify for the homestead exemption will continue to pay $5 a month.

Pete Gerken, president of the county Board of Commissioners, notes that residents no longer will have to pay more if they don’t recycle. Instead, he says, the new program will provide positive incentives for Toledoans to recycle by offering discounts at local businesses.

The private trash hauler, Republic Services (formerly Allied Waste Services), will continue to use the city’s Hoffman Road landfill. It has bought city trash trucks and will use current collection carts. Residents will see no change in collection schedules, other than elimination of the annoying “LEAP Forward” program of trash pickup after city holidays. Toledoans will continue to pay for trash collection on their water bills.

The city and county also benefit from a ruling by the Ohio Public Employee Retirement System that the county will not have to contribute to the pensions of laid-off city refuse workers who move to jobs with Republic Services.

It’s disappointing that eligible suburban communities have not signed up to join the city-county initiative. But if the regionalized, privatized system works the way it is supposed to, they will have every reason to become part of it.

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