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Published: Monday, 12/29/2008

City of Toledo prepares to start overhaul of refuse pickup

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Anne Thomas, a lifelong South Toledo resident who happens to be a neighbor of Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, is probably in the majority of Toledoans who had no idea the city is planning a radical change in its refuse pickup schedule.

When told about the city's plan to save $400,000 in overtime costs next year by switching to the same system used in Columbus, Mrs. Thomas, 59, said there initially would be confusion but ultimately, "we will get it."

Starting Thursday, the city will introduce a new holiday refuse and recycling collection schedule that will affect all residents.

The Finkbeiner administration has dubbed the program "the LEAP forward system." Its plan is to have collection days leap forward one business day after each city holiday, thus resulting in no weekend holiday collection.

<img src=http://www.toledoblade.com/assets/gif/TO17150419.GIF> <b><font color=red>VIEW & DOWNLOAD </b></font color=red>: <a href=" /assets/pdf/TO620061229.PDF" target="_blank "><b> 2009 garbage collection calendars</b></a> <img src=http://www.toledoblade.com/assets/gif/TO17150419.GIF> <b><font color=red>VIEW & DOWNLOAD </b></font color=red>: <a href=" /assets/pdf/TO620061229.PDF" target="_blank "><b> 2009 garbage collection calendars</b></a>
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After each designated city holiday, refuse and recycling will leap forward one business day and stay on that collection day until the next city holiday. On the next holiday, the schedule again will jump forward another business day. This will repeat for all 13 city holidays.

"I think it will be an adjustment and there will be a learning curve," Mrs. Thomas said after being briefed on the new system. "It will be very confusing at first, but we will hang our calendar on the refrigerator, and it sounds like the money savings will be incredible for the city."

Toledo City Council on Dec. 2 shot down the Finkbeiner administration's request to spend $60,000 - of which $35,000 would be paid to Maumee marketing firm Hart Associates - to market the new trash collection program.

Voting against the expenditure were Phillip Copeland, Joe McNamara, George Sarantou, D. Michael Collins, Mike Craig, Michael Ashford, Tom Waniewski, and Lindsay Webb.

The city plans to post a color-coded 2009 calendar on its Web site, www.ci.toledo.oh.us. There will also be a hot line at 419-245-1494.

Residential collection days will be color-coded: For those people whose collection is Monday, the color will be yellow. Tuesday will be green, Wednesday will be orange, Thursday will be blue, and Friday will be red.

For recycling: If you are currently an "A" customer, you will be a "1." If you are a "B" customer, you will be a "2."

The first leap day is Thursday, after which all trash collection days will leap forward one business day and remain the new day until the next holiday of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 19, when the collection day will leap forward another business day and remain until the next holiday, and so on.

The 13 holidays are New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Day, Presidents' Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas.

The city also has considered private operation of garbage collection and using more automated trucks than the three it has.

Mayor Finkbeiner said private operation of trash pickup is not likely anytime soon.

"We received one response to our [request for proposal], and the price was too high," Mr. Finkbeiner said.

The trash collection program costs the city about $14 million a year and the savings for 2009 was factored into the city's budget, said Bill Franklin, the city's public service director.

"All 13 holidays generate time-and-a-half for the city and they make up for it by working on the Saturday," Mr. Franklin said. "It'll be an adjustment, sure, but I think if they know it's saving $400,000, and the budget situation we are in and what we are trying to do, I think we are going to get support for it."

The Finkbeiner administration floated the idea about two years ago, but it was quickly dismissed by council as "too confusing," Mr. Franklin said.

Mr. Sarantou said the move was needed to save money.

"We have to get moving on this because there's $14 million spent on refuse," he said. "And for automation, certainly many other cities have gone to that and it's worked and I don't know why it can't work in Toledo - we are not that unique."

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessina@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.



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