City Talks Trash

OKs Mandatory Pickup Study

The city of Apache Junction is one of the few municipalities in the state without mandatory residential solid waste collection.

Homeowners make their own arrangements to hire a service, gather and dispose of solid waste at the local landfill or burn their waste when local and county restrictions are not in effect.

At their May 1, 2018, regular session, the Apache Junction City Council voted unanimously to direct staff to further study and draft an RFP for a coordinated residential solid waste and recycling program to be considered by the mayor and city council at a future meeting.

In a presentation by Development Services Director Larry Kirch, council members were alerted that the current policy, or lack thereof, has consequences or impacts detrimental to the community.

Apache Junction has benefited from two studies that were made by students at Arizona State University (ASU) through the recent Project Cities program. Classes from the Polytechnic Campus were asked to assess environmental impacts, and students from the public policy school were asked to look at how solid waste was currently handled in the city.

Development Services Director Larry Kirch alerted council members that the current solid waste policy has consequences detrimental to the community.

The reports brought some issues out into the sunlight.

The study revealed that residential property owners have signed up with as many as three different haulers who send five trucks down the same streets each week, resulting in an increase of wear and tear to roadways.

In addition to the street use, air quality suffers from added dust and emissions. Air quality is also negatively impacted by property owners who choose to burn their trash. If solid waste such as old tires or other water retention surfaces are allowed to sit, mosquitoes, rats and other vermin move in and can impact the health of residents.

The City Council requested the ASU studies previously and gave direction to staff to update solid waste and compliance ordinances. “If we do mandatory collection, we’ll have to update those ordinances,” Kirch said.

Kirch suggested that a solution would be for the city to have an agreement with one company to collect refuse. Such an agreement would mitigate the roadway use and vehicle emissions. He also recommended a contract to schedule recycling, electronics and white goods disposal as well as other household waste removal.

Kirch suggested a timetable of 8 or 9 months for staff to research best practices and read up on how other cities have approached the situation.

A Request for Proposal (RFP) will be created to send to servicers who ask to be included in a bidding process. He said that the proposal could include all of the desired services or be limited to service not already provided by the city. He pointed out that the current budget proposal already includes two household hazardous waste events.

Kirch also emphasized that the mandate would only apply to residential areas and not affect businesses and RV parks with contracts in place.

Mayor Jeff Serdy  was concerned that the city would be excluding waste management businesses that were not contracted. “If this plays out, will we be telling some private companies that they cannot do business in the city?”

“That is a possible outcome,” City Manager Bryant Powell answered. “Almost every Valley city has just one trash company to do their residential trash pickup.” Kirch said that the free market comes into play when companies bid with the RFP. City Attorney Joel Stern said that the city could also be divided into districts and secure more than one hauler.

Councilman Chip Wilson was concerned that the landfill closing would fall behind schedule if a company chose to take AJ trash elsewhere. Kirch reminded him that the landfill is contracted to close by 2035 whether it is full or not. The Council voted unanimously to direct staff to further study and draft an RFP for a coordinated residential solid waste and recycling program to be considered by the mayor and city council at a future meeting.

City Council meetings are open to the public and held in chambers at 300 E. Superstition Blvd. in Apache Junction. The meetings begin at 7:00 p.m. Complete agendas and supporting materials are available at https://apachejunction.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx.

1 Comment

  1. Don’t want any changes because waste management is to expensive. Don’t want to have price hikes cause it’s hard on budget. Leave us alone and quit trying to keep up with the Jones.

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