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Published: Wednesday, 7/1/2009

Firm offers to collect 25% of Toledo trash

BY NEENA SATIJA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Allied Waste Management gave Toledo City Council a proposal Tuesday to carry out refuse collection for 25 percent of Toledo.

Public Service Director Bill Franklin said at Tuesday's council meeting that he is still reviewing the proposal and hopes to make a recommendation by early next week. Council is to vote on it July 7.

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner had recommended the city take care of 100 percent of trash collection and spend $12.2 million to buy 40 automated trash trucks. Automated trash trucks would allow the city to lay off 125 workers, but if the work were subcontracted to a private company, the city would have to relocate the laid-off workers to different positions in the city.

The administration hoped for the new trash collection system to put a dent in the city's $12.5 million deficit, the result of a decrease in income tax revenue.

Under Allied's proposal, Toledo would buy 30 trash trucks and be responsible for relocating 31 city workers. Mr. Franklin said vacancies, including utility workers, were being held.

He said, with the help of a suggestion from Councilman Joe McNamara at the meeting, "[Allied] came to the realization they can't get 100 percent."

At first, Mr. Franklin said, "it looked like they wanted all or nothing."

Allied could begin collecting in August or September. The city would be ready with its trucks by January, 2010, at the earliest.

That date is crucial for the city because on Jan. 1, new Environmental Protection Agency standards go into effect.

Trash trucks coming in after that date would be subject to those standards, adding about $50,000 a truck, or $2 million, to the purchase price.

"We're really tight on getting the purchase order in," Mr. Franklin said. He said as long as the proposal is approved by council in July, vendors have told him they would be able to get the trucks delivered and assembled before the new EPA standards apply.

Mr. Franklin was confident that City Council would accept the proposal. With two agencies, one private and one public, collecting trash for the city, "customer service could be a little trickier, but I don't think that's tough to overcome. It's just a matter of education." He added that the question of union employees bumping to positions covered by other unions also seemed "feasible" after union talks.

After a yearlong pilot program that was supposed to last 60 days, months of union negotiations, and countless studies and surveys of other cities, Mr. Franklin said the city needed the proposal to go into effect as soon as possible to start saving money.

"It's time to go full throttle and implement," he said.

Contact Neena Satija at:

nsatija@theblade.com

or 419-724-6272.



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