Assembly to reconsider trash future

City also rethinking transfer of certificate from Arrow Refuse

Posted: Tuesday, March 02, 2010

After hearing from Juneau residents against mandatory universal trash pickup and discussing the city's waste management goals for the coming years, the Juneau Assembly postponed a decision on universal pickup at a work session Monday evening.

Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

That decision and resulting discussion also spurred some backtracking, with the Assembly likely to reconsider some of its previously articulated goals, such as transferring the certificate of necessity and convenience from Arrow Refuse to the city. The certificate gives the entity that holds it control over trash, and had been previously discussed as a necessary first step before it is possible for the city to implement recycling or a means of trash disposal other than the landfill.

City Manager Rod Swope said the certificate has a value of millions of dollars and gaining it, especially without implementing universal mandatory pickup, could end up raising rates - "the last thing we want."

Assembly members said this is the first time they've heard the certificate in itself could cost something.

"After an expensive consultant, an expensive report and a year of discussion about this - to come to this issue only now - that's not a good thing," Assembly member Bob Doll said.

General consensus, however, seemed to be that gaining it remains an important step.

The Assembly will meet on an as-of-yet unspecified date, likely two or three months in the future, to discuss the certificate. City staff and Arrow management will be discussing the transfer of the certificate in the coming weeks.

The Assembly heard about a dozen members of the public speak against the proposed mandatory universal trash collection ordinance and received several more written comments expressing the same view.

"Philosophically, I've got a real problem with you telling me I need to spend additional money to take care of my non-problem," said resident Wayne Edgar, a 35-year Juneau resident.

"Quit trying to herd the sheep around and go after the wolves," said resident Floyd Branson, who said he has been recycling for about 10 years.

Many said if they had it pay for trash pickup, it would serve to discourage recycling and would cost them more.

Mayor Bruce Botelho said the Assembly originally began discussing universal pickup as a necessary step on the way to curbside recycling. "Quite frankly, I wonder if we can achieve the second result without the first," he said.

Arrow Operations Manager Matt Dull said 1,247 out of about 7,000 households within the city's service area do not contract with Arrow for pickup.

Public Works Director Joe Buck said about 2,000 out of the city's 30,000 annually produced tons of garbage is currently recycled. That's about 7 percent.

The Assembly will meet at 5:30 p.m. April 12 to discuss its overall goals, articulated in December with 12 steps that included adopting a universal service ordinance in April, developing a plan for solid waste disposal goals for five years, 10 years and 15 years by September, implementing a curbside recycling pilot program for 10 percent of the service area in December, expanding that program to 30 percent of the city's service area in December 2011, and expanding it to 100 percent of the service area in November 2012.

The Assembly has made no commitment to any specific course of action at this point.

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