Two-yard dumpsters may be a thing of the past in Columbia.
After a recent proposed 11.33 percent cost increase to the city, the Board of Aldermen and officials from Waste Pro discussed options to obtain more reasonable costs to haul the city’s trash.
Chris Lockwood of Waste Pro joined the Board during Tuesday night’s meeting and discussed several options to help keep the city’s costs down and keep his company in the black, including the elimination of a route involving the small, commercial dumpsters.
He said that would allow them to drop the city’s cost increase to 8 percent and knock off about 400 homes from the house count, resulting in more than $5,000-per-month savings to taxpayers.
The roughly 60 businesses that use the city service for their dumpsters now would have to start contracting with a private trash service. Small businesses could continue to use the city’s commercial service with the 96-gallon trash cans.
“We evaluated it and determined that if we were able to discontinue servicing the rear-load, metal, two-yard dumpsters with a residential garbage truck, we would be able to cut a whole route that would allow us to be flexible with the house count and be flexible with the increase,” Lockwood said.
Lockwood said the changes would be beneficial for both sides.
“We’re pretty much proposing doing away with commercial dumpsters,” he said. “We want to allow those people to have a chance to sign on with somebody else, or they’ll have an opportunity to sign on and get a front load dumpster with us. … We’re going to do an audit of carts and do a house count. With that being said, we will probably be able to drop down to about an 8 percent increase, but really where your cost savings are going to come in is the 400 or so homes we can reduce off the house count.”
The cost to the city per home will be $7.78 for hauling and the cost savings on the house count could be as much as $3,000 per month. With the cost reduction from the house count and other savings, the city’s monthly bill with Waste Pro could go from $22,955 a month to around $17,000 per month.
Alderman-at-Large Edward Hough asked about the cutting of two-yard dumpsters. Currently, there are about 60 of the units in town.
“Those would be converted to private service then?” he asked.
“Yes,” Lockwood answered. “There is also a safety issue. The rear-load dumpsters are much more unsafe. The operation cost is higher with those cans.”
Mayor Justin McKenzie told the Board the proposal would do away with the two-yard dumpster option offered by the city. The city and Waste Pro would still offer the 96-gallon cans. Larger dumpsters would be obtained through private services.
“You could go with any service you wanted,” he said. “Waste Pro would offer them. But instead of those red dumpsters you see, they would go to a private contractor and eliminate the disposal costs and costs associated with billing and collections. If they don’t have much trash and choose to stay with our commercial service, they can get the 96-gallon can that we pick up once a week at the same time the residential stuff is picked up.”
City Attorney Lawrence Hahn said changes like that would require a change in the city ordinance.
“Right now, our ordinance provides for commercial service,” he said.
Lockwood said it would eliminate the type of dumpsters that are rolled to the back of the truck to be emptied.
“Your smaller businesses could use a 96-gallon commercial can,” he said. “Anything over two yards was already privately contracted. We have two, four, six and eight-yard dumpsters. Gas stations and restaurants often use eight-yard service. Probably with 20 percent of the cans out there, they need a larger dumpster. That is something to keep in mind.”
Hahn said he could prepare a new draft of the ordinance at the next meeting but that the bigger question is if aldermen want to stop providing that service.
Lockwood said costs for private contracts would be comparable to what customers were paying now and have several options.
“We just really looked at how we could operationally work this contract,” he said. “The dumpsters were kind of glaring to us. Operationally, it’s costing a lot of money for those dumpsters. You don’t see much benefit either. Being able to cut that route gave us some lenience on other costs.”
Lockwood said there were benefits to the front-load type dumpsters.
“I think they are more sanitary,” he said. “It’s easier to get the trash out of the can. The rear-load doesn’t have the same gravity effect. Front load dumpsters are dumped over the top of the truck and everything falls out.”
Hough made a motion to table action until the next meeting when the Board could read the revised ordinance and discuss it. The Board voted 5-0 to table it.
The Columbia Board of Aldermen next meets in regular session at 4 p.m. Oct. 17.
Pictured Above: Dumpsters like this one would be a thing of the past under a proposed change. | Photo by Mark Rogers