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Published: Friday, 4/1/2011

Mayor says fee breaks for senior citizens should go on

Two cost options proposed for private trash system

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledo Mayor Mike Bell says that he thinks the deal with Allied Waste was the best choice for the city. Toledo Mayor Mike Bell says that he thinks the deal with Allied Waste was the best choice for the city.
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Toledo Mayor Mike Bell Thursday said he thinks senior citizens should continue to get a discount on trash collection fees while other residents pay slightly more.

Toledo City Council voted Wednesday to authorize the mayor to let Lucas County hire a private company to take over the city's trash and recycling collection beginning Sept. 1. The preferred vendor is Allied Waste Services, which wrote the lowest of three bids made to the Lucas County Solid Waste Management District last week.

"Do we, as a community, have the ones who can help the ones who can't -- like our seniors?" Mr. Bell asked. "My biggest concern was making sure we got the best deal we could, and we did that."

Under Allied Waste's first option, the cost for every Toledo household would be $8.15 a month for weekly trash pickup and every-other-week recycling pickup. The second option would charge $5 a month for seniors with a homestead exemption while every other household would be charged $8.95 a month.

Lucas County Commissioner Pete Gerken said the county will finalize an agreement with the Bell administration and then with Allied Waste.

"We think the city of Toledo ought to have the say on the price structure, so we are going to take their counsel on that," Mr. Gerken said. "City Council itself did not vote a price structure. As part of the ordinance it allowed the administration to sign an agreement with the Lucas County Solid Waste Management District.

Allied Waste, in its proposal, promised to end the current pickup schedule known as the "Leap Forward Program," which alters garbage collection days after a city holiday.

The firm recognizes six holidays a year, as opposed to about a dozen by the city. Under Allied Waste, trash pickup days will change by one day, but only during the week of a holiday, and then it returns to the regular collection day.

Toledo modeled its Leap Forward after the collection schedule used in Columbus as a way to cut costs.

Mr. Gerken said many people -- including himself -- disliked the program.

"I was confused by it and as an author of the original curbside recycling, I was a bit embarrassed no one really figured it out," he said. "I mostly got it right, but not 100 percent."

Paul Rasmusson, sales manager for Allied Waste, said the company would start planning with the city for a transition.

"The city is going to start placing their work force in permanent positions elsewhere in the city," he said. "We are going to need in the neighborhood of 35 to 40 [new] employees to do this work

Mayor Bell has said the vast majority of the city's 70 refuse workers would be placed in other city jobs. Those who do not have commercial drivers' licenses would be trained for free to obtain one.

Mr. Rasmusson said Allied Waste research has found that 76 percent of communities nationwide have privatized waste collection services. According to the National Solid Wastes Management Association, about 27,000 private-sector companies and public-sector governmental and quasigovernmental agencies were operating in the solid waste industry in 2001. Of those, 55 percent were in the public sector and 45 percent were private companies.

Allied Waste also has contracts to pick up refuse in Maumee, Sylvania, Moncolva Township, Swanton, Port Clinton, and Luna Pier, Mich.

The proposal includes letting Toledoans participate in a recycling incentive program operated by a company called Recyclebank.

Council voted 8-4 in favor of the switch to a private trash hauler, but left itself a 30-day period to reverse the decision.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171.



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