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Published: Wednesday, 7/6/2011

Toledo-Lucas County trash deal in effect

Bell claims gain in consolidation

BY TYREL LINKHORN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Even during his time as Toledo's fire chief years ago, Mayor Mike Bell said he had fielded questions on why government had so much duplication of services. In signing away the city's trash collection business Tuesday, he trumpeted a small victory toward consolidation.

"I believe that this particular issue here addresses some of that in a very aggressive and very proactive way," he said.

After months of discussion and debate, the city and county made official the agreement that will transfer trash collection in Toledo from the city to a county-contracted private hauler. Most Toledo residents will pay $8.95 a month, up from the current $8.50 monthly rate. Those who qualify for a homestead exemption on their taxes will continue to pay $5 a month.

Though that means a 5 percent boost for most residents, county and city officials played up the reward-based recycling program that's included in the deal with Republic Services as a way for residents to recoup at least some -- and possibly all -- of their annual trash collection fees.

David Vossmer, Republic Services general manager, said the program has helped increase recycling in other cities, largely because of the potential to offset some of the trash collection cost. Trash collection will cost about $110 a year, while customers who recycle could earn rewards worth upwards of $200 a year, he said.

Points are calculated by the weight of recycling and can be redeemed for things such as discounts and gift cards.

For example, customers can get $10 off a $50 purchase at Elder-Beerman for 100 points, or a $10 Best Buy gift card for 2,500 points. Lucas County Commissioner Pete Gerken said the county intended to work with the company to see that rewards would be available for local businesses.

Republic will begin driving some routes next week and completely take over collection Sept. 1. Collection schedules will remain the same and waste still will go to the Hoffman Road Landfill.

At the press conference called for the agreement signing, Mayor Bell said the city was facing an $8 million to $9 million annual deficit in trash collection costs.

"That's a heck of a lot to try to recover," he said. "To be able to provide the same services and reduce that cost out of the budget is extremely efficient."

Officials said the move will save $2.8 million this year and up to $6 million annually starting next year.

Steve Herwat, Toledo deputy mayor of operations, said the city was sending out layoff notices Tuesday to the 66 city trash collectors whose jobs will be eliminated. Officials have pledged to give those employees a chance at other city jobs, and Mr. Herwat said Tuesday that 46 openings have been identified so far.

Mr. Vossmer said he believed Republic has hired a half dozen of the Toledo collectors and the company still plans to hire about six more people.

The city intends to sell its fleet of 40 garbage trucks to Republic, which was formerly Allied Waste, for $8 million.

Republic Services operates 348 collection companies in 40 states as well as in Puerto Rico.

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at: tlinkhorn@theblade.com or 419-724-6134.



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