• November 28, 2014

Despite step forward, Killeen recycling plan still drawing concerns

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Posted: Sunday, February 9, 2014 4:30 am

Killeen’s proposed single-stream recycling initiative has several moving parts that triggered numerous questions and concerns as city staff works to get the program nailed down and in place.

In a workshop Tuesday, the program moved closer to getting off the ground when the council reached a 5-2 consensus to give City Manager Glenn Morrison the go-ahead to enter into contract negotiations with Balcones Resources.

However, some council members are still questioning the city’s methods. “(Mayor Dan Corbin) called for the consensus; he saw more than four hands and moved the meeting forward,” Councilman Terry Clark said. “We left discussion so quickly. I don’t believe that the council had the opportunity to thoroughly discuss the workshop item.”

Michael Cleghorn, solid waste director, presented the council with the city staff’s recommendation of Austin-based Balcones’ proposal in a Jan. 14 workshop, which drew questions from council members who requested more information.

On Jan. 21, Cleghorn presented a side-by-side comparison of the four companies vying for the lucrative contract — Balcones, Centex Metals, WILCO and Texas Disposal Systems. The council asked for more time to review the proposals before endorsing one.

Centex Metals withdrew its proposal before Tuesday’s meeting, when the council reached a consensus to support Balcones.

Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Blackstone said she agreed with the city’s recommendation because Balcones’ experience outweighed the other companies.

“I read through their proposal and looked at all of the materials they provided and their education plans,” she said.

Councilman Jose Segarra said he was focusing on the proposals from Centex and Balcones in determining which company to endorse. He said the decision was easier once Centex withdrew its proposal.

Clark said he didn’t vote in favor of moving forward because he still had unanswered questions.

“It happened so quickly that the mayor called for a consensus and I had never been recognized to add to the discussion,” he said.

Councilman Jonathan Okray also said he wasn’t recognized to ask questions at Tuesday’s meeting.

Rate increase

Under the single-stream proposal, all residents would receive a 96-gallon trash cart and a 96-gallon recycling cart for an estimated $20.89 per month, with actual costs dependent on a rate study.

Hilary Shine, city spokeswoman, said staff determined the cost to residents using assumed market averages, estimated startup expenses and estimated disposal and diversion numbers.

Shine said staff estimated it would cost $3.39 a month per customer to recycle. When added to the city’s existing 96-gallon cart fee of $17.50 the total comes to $20.89 a month.

Capital outlay for the program is expected to cost about $4.8 million — $2 million for trucks and $2.8 million for recycling carts. The annual recurring cost to run the program is estimated at $675,699, which includes personnel and operating costs.

Shine said it’s necessary for the council to select a vendor before a rate study is completed so accurate figures are factored in.

“This study will take a comprehensive look at all solid waste fees, including the estimated cost of adding citywide recycling,” she said. “This study must factor in estimated expense and revenue from the recycling vendor in order to determine what fee increases, if any, will be necessary to support the current trash collection and proposed recycling collection.”

Okray said he believes choosing a company before conducting a rate study is “putting the cart before the horse.”

“We are committing to something and we really don’t know how much it’s going to cost,” he said.

Councilman Steve Harris agreed. “Even if the contract is being negotiated, the final price can’t be determined until the rate study is complete.”

Segarra said he agrees with choosing a provider before completing a rate study.

“The big thing citizens are concerned with is what is this going to cost; that’s why we need to move forward so we can determine a cost,” he said.

Councilman Jared Foster said he believes the rate will shed some light on residents’ cost concerns.

“I am optimistic that a rate study will ultimately reveal opportunities for cost savings we haven’t yet considered,” he said.

Mandatory system

Part of the single-stream proposal is mandating the program throughout the city, but no final decisions have been made.

Shine said the proposal would restructure solid waste services.

“The base fee ... would include recycling,” she said. “So, residents choosing not to recycle using the city’s service would pay the same rate for solid waste services as those utilizing the service.”

Okray said he believes residents should vote on mandatory recycling.

“We aren’t asking citizens if they want this,” he said.

Corbin said there are “a lot of uncertainties regarding the program being rolled out citywide, which the council would decide in a vote.”

“I’m not sure that there are four votes for mandatory recycling,” he said.

Harris said he thinks the city should start small before initiating a mandatory citywide program.

“Instead of trying to move along with the whole city, we should have tried to follow other cities’ examples by initiating a pilot program,” Harris said.

Segarra said he thinks giving residents an incentive for recycling will play a big factor in moving forward with the program.

Foster said, for him, the question of the recycling initiative is “not a moral problem but an economic one.”

“We have a limited supply of space in (the landfill), and single-stream recycling constitutes a dramatic shift in how Killeen handles one of its primary services,” he said. “Seen in this light, the program is not a supplement to what we already offer but a restructuring of an entire enterprise that will be sustainable in the long term.”

Councilman Wayne Gilmore could not be reached for comment.

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8 comments:

  • Eliza posted at 4:26 am on Mon, Feb 10, 2014.

    Eliza Posts: 868

    @ Isn't that like tipping a purse snatcher?


    I guess they never thought ,the citizens could figure it out. Or worse yet, maybe they haven't figured it out.

    Why pay someone a fee' whose going to be making money off of you as it is.

     
  • PlayFair posted at 12:51 am on Mon, Feb 10, 2014.

    PlayFair Posts: 10

    There is a town in Illinois with a population of 55,000 that successfully used incentives for recycling. They have a sliding scale for non recyclable charges and recycling is free. Ultimately, those interested in recycling pay $12.00 or less a month for solid waste removal. Killeen's present government wants us to pay for the removal of items to be sold by the same company charging for pick up. Isn't that like tipping a purse snatcher?

     
  • Alvin posted at 1:40 pm on Sun, Feb 9, 2014.

    Alvin Posts: 223

    Well I for one am against the whole process of a mayor and his 'councilmen/woman determining the plight of a city. First it was 'place a recycle container, for no charge, and we will solve the worlds problems. Then the next week, it was 'we will solve all of the city's problems, but you are going to pay for it – mandatory'. Now it is a 96 gallon container irregardless of what you actually need. Needs are not important. And this smoke screen that the city puts out - Hilary Shine is quoted as saying; 'staff determined the cost to residents using assumed market averages, estimated start up expenses and estimated disposal and diversion numbers'. In other words – 'THEY GUESSED'.
    And with the water problem – they now say that the city can manage $5 Million down payment as to the water contract in relation to the $30 Million that it will cost to build the water plant – if they have this much money - $5 Million just laying around – why haven't they cut our bills? We don't know what our city Government is up to, period.
    This holds true for the current exercise re recyclables.

     
  • wilcfry posted at 11:45 am on Sun, Feb 9, 2014.

    wilcfry Posts: 93

    I'm all for mandatory recycling, and think every city should require it.

    But some things about this Killeen process don't make sense to me. For example, it doesn't make sense to have two 96-gallon containers, for most of us -- those of us in single-family households.

    The current method of (1) choose-your-size trash container and (2) a small recycling tub seems to work just fine, for those of us who are utilizing it. My family (of four) currently has a 64-gallon container that never gets filled up because of how much of that waste disappears into the recycling tub -- and cardboard gets flattened out to take up almost no space at all.

    Raising my family to a double set of 96-gallon containers will seem a little ridiculous; neither would ever be even half full, except maybe on Christmas, or the day we move out.

    It makes even less sense for those who don't yet have children or who are retired or live alone.

     
  • shadowsgandpa posted at 9:39 am on Sun, Feb 9, 2014.

    shadowsgandpa Posts: 1

    This is just another form of the city TAXING us. This is a MANDATORY so we pay them to haul off our recycles that I do my self right now. I pocket the little bit I get from the recycles instead of the city getting it.
    I dont think it should be mandantory.[sad]

     
  • OldWoman posted at 9:20 am on Sun, Feb 9, 2014.

    OldWoman Posts: 28

    "Shine said it’s necessary for the council to select a vendor before a rate study is completed so accurate figures are factored in."

    Sounds to me like "we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it " (Nancy Pelosi about Obamacare)
    [sad]

     
  • Alvin posted at 9:19 am on Sun, Feb 9, 2014.

    Alvin Posts: 223

    First, the council vote was 5-2. However some council members are still questioning the city's methods as Mayor Dan Corbin called for the consensus and saw more than four hands and moved the meeting forward. As to Terry Clark stating 'we left discussion so quickly, I don't believe that the council had the opportunity to thoroughly discuss the workshop item'. Councilman Jonathan Okray 'also said he wasn't recognized to ask questions at Tuesday's meeting. And as to the statement made by Terry Clark that 'it happened so quickly that the Mayor called for a consensus and I had never been recognized to add to the discussion'. I believe there is something wrong with the vote tabulation. 5-2 with at least 3 abstentions doesn't add up.

    Hilary Shine is quoted as saying; 'staff determined the cost to residents using assumed market averages, estimated start up expenses and estimated disposal and diversion numbers'. In other words – 'THEY GUESSED'. Shine said 'it's necessary for the council to select a vendor before a rate study is completed so accurate figures are factored in'.

    I would offer an opinion on this, I would think that when the city first completed the preliminary round of selecting the vendors, put forth and received the RFPs (Request For Proposals) the city was then in a position to proceed with a rate study as there were only 4 selected candidates, one of whom has dropped out of selection. If a rate study, of the 4 remaining vendors, had been completed, the process would have been a lot easier for the councilmen/councilwoman to consider and vote on. But that doesn't seem to the case here, keep it muddled up and confusing. Keep the colors muddled when a case of black and white will do. But that's Killeen style I guess.

    I tend to agree with Okray, Harris, and Clark, 'put it to a vote'. As to the Harris comment of ' we should have tried to follow other cities’ examples by initiating a pilot program', wouldn't the 'voluntary city wide program' done the same thing? Didn't the 'failure' of the voluntary program give the city any indication'?

    AS to the comment from Segarra, ' thinks giving residents an incentive for recycling will play a big factor in moving forward with the program'. The only 'program incentive' would be giving the citizens a 'free program'. That is in tune with councilman Foster saying 'the question of the recycling initiative is “not a moral problem but an economic one”.'

    When all is said and done, 'it is my personal opinion that the city scores another zero on this one'.

     
  • DavidTX posted at 8:41 am on Sun, Feb 9, 2014.

    DavidTX Posts: 2

    There are many single people not to mention those of us that are Senior Citizens on fixed incomes that dispense very little trash/solid waste. We currently have 3 different size containers that we can choose from with different monthly charges. Those garbage/trash containers are currently in use. Why is it necessary/mandatory for us to pay the same amount as a family of 4-6 or more?
    Is this just another example of a boondoggle so often associated with our great city of Killeen????????