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|Tombstone trash collection outsourced to Waste Management|
|Written by Amanda Seely|
|Thursday, 16 February 2012 02:08|
Tombstone is trading in the open whiskey barrel trashcans along Allen Street for fancy new solar compactors as part of a new contract with Waste Management.
“These are the coolest devices,” said City Clerk George Barnes.
The compactors have one side for garbage, and another for recyclables like paper, aluminum and plastic. The compactor is powered by a solar panel covering the section for trash. When the garbage can fills up, the compactor will flatten the waste, leaving more space in the can.
“It’ll hold three times as much as a barrel would,” Barnes said.
The solar compactors are also linked to a GPS system, and will alert the city when they need to be emptied, he said.
Mayor Jack Henderson said that the solar compactors will hopefully be a solution to some of the problems that the city has now, and will lead to a cleaner city.
“We hope we won’t have the bee problem that we have with the empty containers and just the open barrels,” he said. “We’re hoping that the trash doesn’t blow in the gusty and windy conditions we sometimes experience.”
Along with the recycling options attached to the solar compactors, Tombstone will gain three new recycling sites.
“As part of the agreement with Waste Management, they provided a set of recycling containers that will go in three different regional drop-off centers,” Barnes said. The sites will be at City Hall, the fire department and the baseball fields. While these recycling centers will accept all recyclables that can be put into the solar compactors, they will not accept glass. To Barnes, this is a waste.
“You can’t pay people to take it,” he said. “There’s a lot of glass that comes out of this place the main business here is drinking.”
Henderson said that the city chose to enter the contract with Waste Management because Tombstone’s city-run garbage collection system was not meeting the demands of its residents.
“The problem we had before was a manpower issue,” he said. “We had two people qualified to run the garbage trucks. While one would man the truck the other person would be recycling cardboard and is also working on licenses and assisted at the sewer plant. When one of them would get sick, garbage would get neglected.”
Henderson said the maintenance of the city’s two garbage trucks was also a factor in the decision to contract with Waste Management.
“They’re big trucks, and we did not have the equipment to do the heavy maintenance, and it was expensive to take them elsewhere and get them worked on,” he said. “Now it’s like being in the garbage business with a whole fleet of trucks and no headaches.”
The city chose Waste Management because of its positive track record in other Arizona cities.
“We went to cities who were using Waste Management, and the feedback reports were all favorable,” Henderson said. “Other cities had put it out for bid, and state law allows us to accept another city’s bid or a similar one, so we went that way without the expense of going through that process. We went with a company who can keep up without the requirements that are a paper trail nightmare.”
Concerns have been raised about the possibility of changes in fees and services with Waste Management.
Henderson and Barnes both said that the contract with Waste Management limits the reasons the company can raise their fees.
“There’s an inflation adjustment based on the consumer price index,” Barnes said. “Then we have the extraordinary circumstances, like fuel prices rising, surcharges, adjustments, taxes, landfill charges, etc.”
Residents will still get help in moving their cans to the curb.
“We are still handling the handicapped people,” Henderson said. “We’re still moving cans for them and making sure it gets out where it needs to be.”
The other change residents will see is new trash cans.
“Everybody gets new cans,” Barnes said. “Everybody gets two instead of one. We’ve gone from twice a week collection to once a week. Ours were getting pretty old and dilapidated, so they’re being ground up and recycled.”
According to City Councilman Steve Troncale, the issues so far are not of any grave concern.
“There’s a little start-up confusion, but nothing serious,” he said. “The old trash cans are getting picked up and the new trash cans are getting delivered, so there will always be a few hiccups, but I haven’t heard anything serious so far.”