Petrolia won’t be saving a lot of cash but it will be preserving weekly pickup with its new five-year garbage contract.
The town’s agreement with Waste Management expires at the end of the year and municipal officials were looking for ways to save money. CAO Manny Baron suggested one was to implement biweekly pickup. That would have saved about $68,000.
But town councilors turned the idea – and a second proposal which would have seen weekly pickup from June until September – after residents voiced concerns about the idea.
Councilors said almost everyone they met didn’t like the plan, worried about the smell, the possibility of rodents, and young families with lots of diapers.
So staff directed Baron to go back to Waste Management and negotiate a new deal with biweekly pickup.
The company offered the town the same yearly price – $233,571.69 – for the same service for the first four years of the contract and $5,000 in savings for the fifth year. Baron says the town would only get the savings if it agreed to the five-year deal.
Council accepted the package with Mayor John McCharles saying he thought it was a good deal for the town. “It’s not going up,” he says “I think its quite reasonable. I was concerned about a big increase.”
McCharles says many other services are rising because of increasing gas prices and wages, so a five-year freeze in rates is a good deal.
But there still seems to be some interest in lowering costs. Councilor Liz Welsh questioned whether three years down the road, if the town wanted to, would Waste Management take another look at the deal.
Baron says while they didn’t discuss the possibility, he expects the company would at least listen.
But long before they heard about the reduced savings, councilors say they heard an earful from residents who didn’t want biweekly pickup.
“I was flooded with calls,” says Brown adding most didn’t like the idea. Most of the callers felt the reduced service was “not worth the savings,” added Brown. “I’ve never seen people more upset.”
Councilor Mary Pat Gleeson says practically every person she talked to voiced their concern. “Most understood we want the savings and many said ‘for me it wouldn’t be a problem’ but many were worried about the young family down the street.’”
“Other people wondered what would happen if they missed on pickup day,” agreed Councilor Joel Field “then it’s a month before the garbage is collected.”
Brown added there was also a concern about “rodent infestation” because of the added garbage.
The councilors say the only way to reduce garbage cost is to recycle more. Gleeson would like to see the town work with Waste Management to come up with a recycling education plan.
Baron will come back to council with a plan, including a recycling education program, at its next meeting.