The city of Delaware may opt out of providing commercial trash collection as early as 2018 as some multi-family developments seek lower costs for the service.
Delaware City Council had a first reading of legislation at its Feb. 27 meeting to raise refuse rates by 87 cents per month. Households with a 96-gallon container now pay $19.73 per month.
Council also discussed the impact of suspending commercial operations, which serves 37 businesses, 80 multi-family developments and 17 city parks and facilities out of more than 2,500 businesses. While regular businesses can opt out of the service, multi-family developments such as apartments and condominiums cannot because they are considered residential.
Some of the developments’ representatives want that to change because other refuse collection providers offer lower prices compared with the city, which charges $143.98 per month to collect trash from a 6-cubic-yard dumpster once a week.
“We would love to see the privatization of the commercial,” said Lincoln Schneider, president of Provident United Inc., which manages Hayes Colony apartments, 470 McKinley Lane, in Delaware.
Schneider told The Gazette he has 11 6-cubic-yard dumpsters at Hayes.
He told Council that it costs $16.16 for each of Hayes’ 189 apartment units each month, while it costs about $6.57 per one of the 336 apartment units for Provident-managed apartment in Gahanna.
One cause is the fact that Delaware does not have any front-load dumpster trucks, while the Gahanna apartment’s carrier does, Schneider said.
Public Works Director Bill Ferrigno presented to Council reduced rates based on adjustments to have an equitable distribution and allocation of refuse service costs. Under the proposed rate, the city would collect trash from a 6-cubic-yard dumpster once a week for $121.80 per month.
But the price was not quite right for the property manager of Olentangy View Condominiums, 1241 Rivercrest Drive. Doug Price said its 10 6-cubic-yard dumpsters charged at the current rate, but another provider can offer the service for $85 per dumpster each month.
“If you can bring your rate down to $90, $95, I think we would be happy to stay with the city,” he said.
Public Works Director Bill Ferrigno said the city can “artificially” change rates but the operation costs would still have to be paid.
Additionally, allowing multi-family developments to opt out of the city’s service could create a cycle where the commercial base gets smaller, while the overhead costs remain the same.
“It’s just not practical to continue commercial collection for what fundamentally is 134 customers in the city versus all of the potential businesses there are,” Ferrigno said.
Suspending such operations would increase rates by an additional $1.33 per month, on top of the 87-cent increase under consideration, in order to cover so-called legacy costs associated with the general refuse overhead and management of two two closed landfills on Cherry Street and Curve Road.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency requires the city to monitor the landfills for explosive gas and ground water contamination. The city spends an annual average $250,000 to $300,000 for legacy costs, Finance Director Dean Stelzer said.
The discussion of whether to suspend commercial operations will continue as Council will have a second reading of the 87-center increase of the monthly refuse rate on Monday.
“This is really the first step in a process that ultimately might lead to a decision that has to be made about whether we want to stay in this business or phase out of it,” City Manager Tom Homan said. “If we do get out of it, I think it’s probably wise at least to provide some public comment … It could be we remain in it this year, but beginning 2018 we’re out of it.”
Suspending commercial collection was among the six recommendations Ferrigno made to Council to improve the city’s solid waste management program, which included adding a bulk item collection service, adjusting downtown refuse collection and advance the design and construction process of the 27,000-square-foot refuse/recycling building.
Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.