WEST HAVEN — The debate over garbage simmers on in West Haven.
“I coined it ‘trash wars,’” said Rob Vanderwood, a member of the West Haven City Council.
Officials in the growing city have been debating whether to contract with a hauler to collect waste in the city, likely resulting in cost savings for most customers, and a decision was to have been made Wednesday. But after receiving updated proposals with provisions allowing certain customers to opt out of service, the City Council tabled action so members have more time to review the new information.
Nina Morse, another member of the City Council, is hoping for a decision at the body’s Oct. 7 meeting. Whatever the case, it’s been testy at times, and Wednesday’s tabling of the issue is the second since Sept. 2.
“I never thought garbage is controversial, but it is. ... It is a heated topic,” Morse said Thursday, a day after the meeting. As is, without a citywide contract, West Haven residents make their own deals with trash haulers, a system some apparently prefer though it’s typically more costly.
At the Sept. 2 City Council meeting, some trash customers lamented the lack of a provision in the varied proposals for those who use large dumpsters and don’t want traditional pickup service. They likely would have had to pay for several trash cans given the amount of garbage they generate, boosting their costs. That led to the decision to seek new proposals with opt-out provisions for such customers.
Now, officials want West Haven’s new city manager, Matthew Jensen, to review all the information, including the updated proposals, and report back to the City Council on his findings. He aims to come up with a “digestible” report on the matter by the October meeting, said Jensen.
The three bidders — Republic Services, Waste Management and Robinson Waste Services — all submitted provisions allowing customers to contract on their own for dumpster service and opt out of service under the city contract, if approved. Morse said the change adds only a minimal cost to those who would get service under the city contract, “pennies” per quarter. Either way, the cost would still be lower for most than what it costs to contract individually for trash collection.
“There are very few people who don’t want this,” Morse said. Trash-collection fees in the proposals discussed Sept. 2, before seeking opt-out provisions, ranged from $28.29 to $32.94 every three months for one trash bin, about a third of the cost some currently pay.
But foes are out there, mainly uncomfortable with giving the city government authority to negotiate trash-hauling deals, taking that power out of their hands, according to Morse. “There are just some people saying this is government overreach,” she said.
Vanderwood said West Haven residents would likely see “substantial savings” in their trash bills if the city contracts for service, the norm in Weber County’s other cities. “I think it’s a good thing. It’s going to be beneficial to the community,” he said.
Weber County addressed the trash issue last spring, contracting with two waste haulers to handle residential trash collection in the unincorporated areas of the county, mainly in a bid to reduce costs for consumers.