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Radical trash hauling proposal is premature

The Park RecordThe Summit County Commission is tossing its current garbage hauling contract in the Dumpster and is taking bids on a new one that will leave commercial property owners to fend for themselves when it comes to taking out the trash.

The county’s current contract with Allied Waste Services, ends in July and the commission is taking the opportunity to fundamentally revamp its philosophy on the trash front.

Two radical departures under consideration include: allowing Summit County Public Works to bid against Allied and other private haulers on the residential trash routes and forcing businesses to hire their own haulers.

OK, we’ll concede that Allied, formerly BFI, is no angel but let’s face it, Summit County’s track record in the garbage arena is, well, nonexistent. The county would have to go from zero to full speed by July 1. Cooking up a sanitation department from scratch seems like something that should be implemented in increments over years not whipped up in the fall for a summer debut.

Now, about dumping the commercial pickup service something about this proposal smells kind of like

The first image that comes to mind is a slow-moving, diesel-belching parade of individually contracted garbage trucks trying to squeeze past each other on Swede Alley. The second is the vulnerable look on a small business owner’s face when he or she tries to negotiate a contract for one measly Dumpster. The third is the quagmire of questions regarding the cutoff between residential pickup and commercial, and how to enforce it.

With gas prices still impacting the everyday cost of doing business and traffic congestion already an issue, it would be foolish to encourage multiple companies to duplicate trash-hauling routes. It is also unrealistic to believe the county could assume responsibility for collecting residential trash throughout the county all at once. The capital investment alone would be monumental let alone the insurance and staffing expenses.

The commission has the right idea when it comes to rethinking its role in the trash business but the current proposal, especially the short timeframe for implementation, is ill-advised.

If, indeed, commercial garbage hauling is a different beast than residential collection, the county should bid out two separate contracts. But without substantial buy-in from business owners who pay plenty of taxes for support from their county government it would be grossly unfair to neglect them.


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