Delaware officials will draft legislation for City Council’s consideration to allow multifamily developments to opt out of commercial dumpster services.
The move comes after discussion of one of the recommendations the Public Works and Public Utilities Committee addressed Tuesday for the city’s solid waste program.
Public Works Director Bill Ferrigno said three out of more than 80 multifamily developments have approached the city to opt out of the program because lower prices are available in the private sector.
But it’s possible if apartments and condominiums forego the city’s service it could create a cycle where the commercial base gets smaller, while overhead costs remain the same. Thus, the city would have to consider suspending such operations, while continuing its residential service.
“That’s the cycle that could happen,” Ferrigno said.
Vice Mayor Kent Shafer said a decision needs to be made as the city has talked about the issue for a long time.
The city can suspend its commercial operations after seeing how many multifamily developments opt out of the program over the next few years.
But suspending commercial operations could increase rates for residential customers by an additional $1.33 per month in order to cover so-called legacy costs associated with the general refuse overhead and management of two closed landfills on Cherry Street and Curve Road.
Finance Director Dean Stelzer suggested finding a way to pass legacy costs to businesses, who were the main contributors to landfill issues.
As entities have opted of out the city’s service, “we’re shifting more of that cost back to our residents that didn’t really create the problems at our landfills,” he said. He suggested a storm-sewer charge to property owners to cover legacy landfill costs.
The city serves 134 commercial customers, which will receive an average 13.8-percent decrease in monthly dumpster rates, while residents will see an 87-cent increase after Council approved the measure at its last meeting.
Other recommendations discussed were the introduction of a bulk item collection pilot program, adjustments for downtown refuse collection and the advancement of the design and construction process of the 27,000-square-foot refuse/recycling building.
Council will consider the bulk collection program at an upcoming meeting. The program would offer collection on the first Tuesday of each month. Residents would pay $25 for the first three bulk pieces plus $10 for additional items.
In other business, the committee was able to bring a resident on Tudor Drive in contact with city officials about oil in front of his house that may have discharged from his vehicle. City officials said they were unable to contact him since December.
The resident said he has odd working hours and issues with a damaged mailbox. He said he was willing to work with the city to clean up the oil. The city’s estimated cost for cleanup was $1,650 as of November, plus costs for any needed road repairs.
On the other hand, two residents did not attend their appeal cases from its safe walks program at 7 p.m.. The two separate cases, one on Diverston Way and the other at West Central Avenue, have a combined estimated repair cost of $4,430.
Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.