CITY DISCONTINUES PURSUIT OF ORGANIZED COLLECTION
On Monday, February 8, 2016, the Mounds View City Council voted to discontinue its exploration of Organized Collection. As you may already know from reading previous updates on the matter, organized collection is a process permitted via state law in which Cities negotiate with their existing garbage haulers to create a "consortium" whereby each hauler is assigned a section of the City geographically representative to their existing market share, or failing an approved consortium agreement, to negotiate with a single hauler via an RFP (request for proposals) bid process to provide collection services to the whole City. Reasons to pursue organized collection may vary from city to city, but commonly expressed objectives include reducing garbage truck traffic, reducing fuel consumption, reducing emissions and other negative environmental impacts, reducing wear and tear on roads, reducing noise, improving safety and enhancing value to residents through lower pricing on more consistent services. The City authorized a telephone survey which was completed in December, the results of which indicated a majority of residents were opposed to the City transitioning to organized collection. Some negative responses were qualified, however, which gave the Council reason to continue looking into the potential for organizing garbage collection. Some negative responses included statements such as, “If the cost savings were substantial, perhaps I would be supportive”, or, “If the savings to the streets could be quantified, maybe I would be supportive.” Other responses expressed concern that a sweetheart deal might be offered the first year in an organized collection system but once the contract was signed there would be no control over future pricing and no incentive to provide superior customer service. Pricing and customer service standards would be explicitly spelled out in a contract, and upon expiration of the initial contract, which would be required for three to seven years, new rates would be renegotiated. Knowing this, the haulers would always strive to provide the same level of customer service they had before organizing, and pricing would remain competitive or a different hauler would be sought. For these reasons, on January 11, the City Council voted to initiate an exclusive negotiation process with the haulers, to better understand what a consortium would look like for the City and to what extent the residents would benefit. One month later, however, in response to overwhelmingly negative feedback and continued resident opposition, the Council took action to terminate its negotiations with the haulers, voting to maintain the open system that presently exists. The ability to choose your own hauler has been preserved. The City would like to thank everyone who voiced their opinion throughout this process!City Council initiates 60-day exclusive negotiation period with the haulers
This year, the City will be nearing completion of a multi-year, multi-million dollar street and utility improvement program in which 26 miles of city streets and underground utilities will have been replaced and renovated. The cost for this work is approaching $25,000,000 and the City would like to preserve and protect this investment in our roadway infrastructure to the greatest extent possible. One way to help achieve this goal is to reduce the number of garbage trucks that drive down our residential streets. To that end, the Mounds View City Council is exploring whether it would make sense to migrate to a system of organized residential garbage collection whereby a consortium of haulers, each with its own geographic service area, would provide hauling services to the residents, or a system where only one hauler is chosen to provide the services to the whole community. In either organized system, the end result would be fewer garbage trucks on the roads.
While preserving the City’s street infrastructure is a key reason why the City is exploring this possibility, other reasons for examining organized collection of residential solid waste include safety, environmental, aesthetic, cost, control of licensing requirements, improved recycling participation and enhanced, standardized services. The City Council acknowledges however that the selection of a garbage hauler, for some, is a personal decision and that some residents may have developed a strong loyalty to their existing hauler. Some residents may feel strongly about maintaining the right to choose and to negotiate on their own for the best rate.
On November 23, 2015, the City Council commissioned a telephone survey to solicit resident opinion and feedback regarding the collection of residential solid waste in Mounds View. (For purposes of the survey, "residential" would be defined as buildings with one to three dwelling units.) The objective of the survey was to get a better understanding of residents' opinion regarding the potential transition to a system of “organized collection” from the existing “open” system. In an “open” system, any qualifying hauler may obtain a business license to collect solid waste and offer said services to the community. Presently, there are four licensed haulers providing residential service in Mounds View. In an “organized” system, the City negotiates with all licensed residential haulers to create a consortium approach whereby each hauler covers a certain segment of the community in direct proportion to their pre-existing market share. If an agreement with all haulers cannot be reached, the City can request proposals from each hauler to be the sole provider of such service to the residents.
An informational flyer was sent to utility account holders and an article printed in the Mounds View Matters to inform the residents of the impending survey, which was planned to occur in December, 2015. The survey has been completed and a summary has been prepared by the company for the City Councils consideration. In addition to the telephone survey, staff collected survey results from residents who chose to proactively take the survey, either online or by picking up a survey document at City Hall. Finally, staff collected responses from residents via email who wrote in to share their opinions. It is planned the City Council will review the results of the survey information at the January 4, 2016, work session, after which direction will be provided as to next steps, which will be posted here.