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Toledo City Council is considering a proposal to charge residents $5 a month over two years to pay for new trash containers that are needed to switch to automated refuse collection.
D. Michael Collins, a South Toledo district councilman, said charging residents directly rather than selling notes for the receptacles would save the city $3 million in interest.
Council agreed in April to spend $9.67 million to buy two containers for every household to begin automating its trash collection.
The current plan calls for the city to pay for the containers, which would remain city property. But under Mr. Collins' plan, the residents would own the containers and keep them if they move out of the city.
The $120 would cover the city's cost of two containers.
Mr. Collins acknowledged his suggestion could be unpopular.
"When you look at it from a practical standpoint, if you recycle, the trash fee will go to zero," Mr. Collins said. "It's my prediction that the recycling rate will increase to 90 percent after automation begins because that is our experience in the test areas of the city."
On May 1, the trash fee changed to $8.50 a month for those who don't recycle and to $1 for those who do. Beginning May 1, 2010, the fee jumps to $10 a month for those who don't recycle and drops to zero for those who participate in curbside recycling.
To help balance the 2009 general fund budget, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner has asked council to raise the refuse fee to $10 for people who do not recycle and to $7 for those who do. Council has refused to even consider the request until the city concludes its concession-seeking negotiations with its police and fire unions.
Councilman Mike Craig said he couldn't support Mr. Collins' idea. "The short answer is no because I told people that going to automation would save them money," Mr. Craig said.
Council also must decide whether it should spend $12.2 million to buy 40 automated garbage trucks rather than hire a private trash hauler for refuse collection. The Finkbeiner administration has recommended buying the trucks because subcontracting the work would mean positions would have to be found within the city for any laid-off refuse employees.
The switch to automated pickup would allow use of a single driver rather than a three-person crew. That would cut about 70 jobs from the solid waste division.
The new trash receptacles are to be delivered to every household by the end of 2009. They are available in three sizes: 96, 64, and 48 gallons.
One container will be for trash and the other for recycling.