Despite fierce opposition from some citizens, the city of Bloomington has decided to begin a system of organized trash collection.
The resolution approved 6-1 Monday night by the City Council was long fought by residents who argued that it would take away their right to choose their own trash hauler and realize potential cost savings. Supporters argued that having a single hauler would cut down on the number of big trucks in residential areas, as well as wear and tear on roads.
The city now will bring a final contract to a single consortium of haulers, and organized garbage collection could begin as soon as spring 2016.
Council Member Cynthia Bemis Abrams was the only “no” vote. “I just didn’t think that the arguments presented were compelling enough to interfere in the benefits we already receive from the private marketplace,” she said.
Currently, the city’s trash hauling is handled by about seven companies, each of which has three trucks that pick up garbage, recycling and extra waste. Residents sign a contract with a hauler of their choosing.
Council Member Andrew Carlson said the consortium proposal made by the haulers met the city’s goals for both quality of life and environmental issues.
“The haulers will get together and work out a plan to assign themselves to geographic regions based on their current market share with the city,” he said.
The five-year contract will be signed within the coming weeks. After the first five years, the city will have the opportunity to renew it for an additional five years. Once the hauling consortium starts pickups, all of the trash collected by the consortium will head to the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center, where it will be generated into energy.
Bloomington citizens have been vocal throughout the debate. At Monday’s meeting, some held signs criticizing the resolution and Mayor Gene Winstead, who supported the change.
“It’s been a contentious issue in town,” said Karl Keel, Bloomington’s public works director, who said the plan will save citizens and the city money.
The city is expected to set strict provisions for anyone looking to opt out of the hauling consortium, and it will deny licenses to anyone who is not a part of the consortium.
“It’s in the best interest of the city,” Winstead said at Monday night’s meeting.