Township proposes municipal garbage collection

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:54

    SPARTA-Trash talking. Sparta municipal officials say the more the better. The township is asking local residents for their input into a proposed plan that would provide for uniformed residential garbage collection for the whole municipality. Township manager Henry Underhill offered the proposal for solid waste services including garbage, recycling, leaves, and bulk under one contract for public bid. Currently, residents make their own arrangements for solid waste removal. "There are a lot of options and we haven't decided which way to go," said Underhill. "Hopefully, we can come up with a broader-based system." Residents are asked to participate in an online poll at to determine support for the establishment of a solid waste utility fee per house for twice-a-week residential garbage collection and monthly bulk pickup. Underhill said Sparta residents pay approximately $400 a year for basic trash removal. The expenditure does not include leave and brush pickup, which is performed once per year by the township and included in local taxes. Under a municipal contract, he said residents would save about $250 a year. Additionally, the proposal would provide for monthly bulk collection, however, the frequency for collecting leaves and recycling would not change. To date, close to 70 percent of residents polled favor a township utility that includes monthly bulk pickup and twice-per-week garbage pickup at a cost of $325 per year. Underhill said only one company bid on all items in the proposal at a cost per year of $2.07 million including $283,000 for recycling, $36,000 for leaves, $75,000 for bulk, and $1.67 million for bi-weekly trash removal. He said most companies opt out of leaf removal because of the amount of work involved. Approximately 300 permits are purchased from the township each year for the removal of bulk items. "One of the comments over the years has been to have more frequent bulk pickup," said Underhill. "We bid the bulk pickup at once per month so that residents wouldn't have to save it for a year." The town manager said Waste Management represents the lion's share of trash removal in the township. He said the proposal would provide an economic alternative for residents who choose to dispose of their own trash at the township dump. Underhill said the proposal would mean more administrative work for the township, but additional staff would not be necessary. "If you have one hauler in town, you know whom to call," he said. "When the town is providing the contract, you know where to complain." Underhill understands those calls would likely stream through his office. "Having a private contractor can work well for the township and the public," he said. "The hauler is not in business to hear complaints." Details of the proposal will be made available at the town hall meeting, Saturday, Oct. 22.