Failed Carbondale trash ordinance isn’t dead
Though Carbondale trustees have shot down an environmentally friendly trash ordinance for now, it’s likely to rise again in 2016.
The board is contemplating a potentially costly garbage policy, and many worry the approach will raise the already high cost of living.
The proposal works toward multiple goals: to reduce garbage truck traffic in town, to limit the number of garbage companies, to limit the number of days they can operate and to encourage Carbondalians to recycle and compost.
One option the board is considering is to require the garbage companies to provide composting services, rather than just have them offer it to customers.
Making composting required is one easy way to make a positive environmental impact, said Trustee Pam Zentmyer.
And in the future, Carbondale could require grocery stores to donate usable food rather than throwing it out, offered Trustee Katrina Byars.
Trustee A.J. Hobbs wanted to make sure the compostable waste goes to a facility that puts it back into the natural stream rather than using it as landfill, a practice that comes with its own problems.
About 30 percent of Carbondalians do not have trash service. So the board is also contemplating changes to the ordinance that would require all residents to purchase trash service.
Another possibility is for the town to strengthen its “volumetric price structure.”
In other words, the more you throw away, the more you pay, said Mayor Stacey Bernot.
While that option would require the heavier users to pay more, Bernot fears it will hit families especially hard.
A single person or a couple could probably get by, but a family of four would see a real hit to their pocketbook, said the mayor. Volumetric pricing would also hit businesses hard.
Some trustees have pushed for a “single hauler” option, rather than having multiple companies that all offer different services.
River Valley Ranch has adopted the single-hauler option with pretty positive results in lowering truck traffic in the subdivision, Bernot said.
Jim Noyes, president of RVR Homeowners Association, said the single-hauler approach has been a “slam dunk” since adopting the policy in April. It reduces the redundancy of several garbage trucks servicing the same neighborhood at different times of day throughout the weeks.
Noyes said that at one point, five different garbage trucks serviced his neighborhood. They would each make two passes of the houses — once for trash and once for recycling — with one company collecting trash five to six days a week.
Likewise, making everyone’s trash day the same helps control issues with bears that are attracted by garbage, he said.
The current proposal doesn’t require a single hauler, but moves the town in that direction by limiting the number of haulers, Bernot said.
The trash companies, too, are concerned about potential changes, with several representatives at the Board of Trustees’ meeting.
The additional services would drive up the cost for haulers, which would then be passed on to the customer, said Lance Benninghoff of Waste Management.
More services will require more trucks and more personnel.
And going with a single trash company could lead to layoffs at other companies, Benninghoff said.
Bernot said she’s been hearing from residents who think the changes would be too expensive.
Even residents from outside of town are worried that some people will illegally dump their trash in rural areas to avoid the higher prices, which they already do, Bernot said.
The town had a couple of outreach meetings during the summer of 2014, but Bernot said the town’s communication with the public on the potential changes hasn’t been sufficient.
Working toward an ideal environmental policy is great, but the town needs to approach it incrementally, chipping away at the issue rather than moving at a pace residents can’t keep up with, Bernot said.
The big question is how much more the average resident is going to pay for these changes, which has yet to be answered, said the mayor.
Jason White of the Carbondale Environmental Board said that while he’s been working on the new policy for years, he didn’t want it passed because not all of the trustees were on board.
“As the person pushing it for eight years, I would be willing to take a step back,” he said. “Where this feels sloppy is that we have a 15- to 20-year-old ordinance, and we’re trying to put progressive language into it.”
Bernot said the trash ordinance likely won’t come up again until after Carbondale’s upcoming April elections.
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