Businesses on their own for trash collection
The Summit County Commission is ready to consider bids for a five-year trash-hauling contract that would serve residences but not commercial properties. As proposed, businesses would have to negotiate for their own pickups.
That could mean more trucks on Main Street when the county’s current contract with Allied Waste, formerly known as BFI, ends next July and business owners hire their own trash haulers.
"Businesses will have an opportunity to talk to four or five different garbage haulers," said Henefer Mayor Randy Ovard who owns Grumps, a grocery store in Henefer. "If they could not save money, then they could continue on with BFI or whatever private carrier they wanted to go with."
He supports a bid request from the Summit County Commission that should allow haulers to begin competing next summer to pick up trash at businesses in Summit County.
"Commercial is a different market and it does require a different kind of service," said Kevin Callahan, administrator for Summit County Public Works.
The County Commission has asked the roughly five bidders interested in replacing Allied Waste Services to estimate only the costs to serve single- and multi-family housing for the next five years, he said, adding that Allied’s contract currently requires the company to provide residential and commercial trash collection in Summit County.
But Allied Waste also intends to be a "competitive bidder" for the new residential contract, Allied Waste Services General Manager Rick Schultz recently told The Park Record.
And so does Summit County, Callahan added.
The County Commission is considering allowing Public Works to pick up residential waste after contracting with private trash haulers for more than 20 years, he said.
"The initial capital outlay is pretty high," Schultz said about how much Summit County would need to invest in a trash-hauling program.
Callahan couldn’t comment about budget numbers on Monday but cautioned commissioners to consider more than price when deciding whether to begin picking up citizens’ trash.
"Rightly or wrongly, I think most counties have decided it’s better for the private sector to handle it," Callahan said.
Taxpayers through the county’s general fund pay Allied Waste Services roughly $1 million per year, he said, adding that the cost of the next waste contract could double.
"It isn’t to me just a matter of saying, we’ll do it and we’ll do it cheaper," Callahan said. "We don’t have the equipment, we don’t have the experience, we don’t have the trained personnel."
Along with staffers who lack the skills to haul trash for nearly 20,000 customers, Callahan isn’t convinced a crew could be maintained in the county’s tight labor market where affordable housing is scarce.
"Just holding on to the people we’ve got is a challenge and I’ve got a real serious concern about that," he said, adding that private haulers in Salt Lake recruit from a much larger pool of employees. "It’s harder for us to get somebody to come up to Summit County and do this kind of job."
Still, Public Works will submit a bid to the County Commission before the Sept. 29 deadline, Callahan said, adding that "the desire to look at this has come from our elected officials, but I don’t know what exactly they are hoping to achieve."
According to Summit County Commissioner Ken Woolstenhulme, taxpayers would likely save money and have complaints responded to quicker if the county collected the garbage.
"But we’re sort of starting from scratch and that’s always a concern for me," said Callahan expecting the County Commission to award the contract by Oct. 25.
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