Carbondale board continues trash talks
While much of the original waste hauling conversation in Carbondale concerned protecting bears, the discussion has since evolved into a possible complete overhaul of the town’s current free-market trash collection system.
“I think that waste hauling seems to just be one of those areas that in the economy that the free market doesn’t serve well, because it makes it less efficient,” Carbondale Trustee Ben Bohmfalk said at the board’s regular Tuesday night meeting.
Although defending wildlife certainly remains a top priority of the board and mayor, waste diversion — and particularly addressing the sheer number of garbage trucks driving up and down the town’s streets and the resulting negative impacts has since steered the discussion.
The majority of the board has aligned their views with the option of a public contract with a private provider; or, as trustee Marty Silverstein suggested, a public contract with private providers — emphasis on plurality.
“Philosophically, I am opposed to single hauler. I could see having two haulers,” Silverstein stated. “Some attempt at free market or competition would be beneficial to the consumer.”
A single private provider would, ideally, significantly reduce the number of trucks on the roads.
However, mandating that the private contractor also provide additional resources like recyclable containers may in turn drive up costs, some town officials suggested.
Carbondale Mayor Dan Richardson agreed with his colleagues that a single hauler or haulers under a public contract seemed to be the route worth taking, but seemed confident that issues like recycling would not impose hikes on the contract’s price tag.
“If you have a public contract, you have the economies at scale that will bring down the cost for everyone, and that will help offset the cost of requiring recycling,” Richardson said. “There was a comment made by our consultant that already 70 percent of the households recycle, so we’re only talking about increasing recycling to another 30 percent and chances are they are already on route.
“So, I don’t feel that requiring recycling is really going to have any sort of significant cost on the overall contract,” he said.
Trustees often referenced neighboring communities such as New Castle, Rifle and Silt, which all have a public contract with a private provider, and potentially building upon the waste hauling efficiencies those towns have seen.
According to data presented by Laurie Adams with consultant LBA Associates, in New Castle a mid-sized trashcan and small recycling costs $15 a month.
“Even Telluride, which I would expect to be higher in any cost analysis of any service is $28 a month for recycling and trash,” Bohmfalk said.
Although a formal decision may be a ways down the road, when the time does come, discussions regarding a new ordinance and a contract with a private provider or providers would need to happen concurrently, according to the mayor.
“We’re basing the contract off of an ordinance which means we’re changing the rules and saying, ‘OK haulers, you have to abide by these rules,’ so we really have to have them in parallel,” Richardson explained.
“We want to allow the haulers to have creativity in how they can help us meet the intents of our ordinance.”
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Basalt town government officials learned from Waste Management that it will require a $120,000 subsidy to keep a recycling drop-off site in Willits operating in 2020. That’s double the subsidy of last year. It reflects the depressed market for recycled materials.