Trash truck

MOUNT VERNON — Following Monday night's meeting of the city's Utilities Committee, the idea of a preferred trash hauler provider is officially off the table.

Councilman and Committee Chairman Chris Menapace said that in a meeting with the city's permitted trash haulers last week, the haulers gave their opinion, understood what council was trying to do, and showed how a preferred hauler was actually going to hurt prices and service.

“I think when you look at what we really want to do … I think the direction we should go is to support city administration taking a peek at 755,” he said.

Menapace was referring to Chapter 755 of the city's ordinances which relates to solid waste haulers. It lists the registration, reporting, inspection, and collecting requirements as well as penalties and the appeals process. Menapace urged the other council members to review 755 and reach out to administration officials with their thoughts on tightening the current code.

“I think the wise thing to do would be to give city administration … more teeth and more authority with certificating and oversight of the trash haulers,” he said.

Menapace's suggestions to tighten the ordinance include increasing the size of lettering on the trucks, specifying the number of axles allowed, and including requirements regarding leakage or spillage. He also suggests an increase in fees, which he says are 300% less than the closest municipality.

Councilman Mike Hillier, a major catalyst behind the proposed program, agreed with dropping the idea of a preferred hauler. He is still concerned about the approximately 1,500 households who do not have trash removal and recommends that the ordinance include a fine if a resident cannot show proof of trash removal.

He said that Greg Bemiller, property maintenance enforcement officer, feels the ordinance needs more teeth and requested the administration to ask Bemiller “what teeth are needed.”

Noting that people need to have some personal responsibility, Councilwoman Nancy Vail said, “We are side-stepping personal responsibility in our community in every kind of way.”

Councilman Sam Barone said that although he is disappointed council is not able to offer residents significant savings on trash hauling like the savings realized through the gas and electric aggregation programs, he does believe the city can offer transparency on price.

“I don't think it's too much to ask for a service that we are permitting … that each of those vendors that we permit have on file a current pricing matrix that is consistent,” he said. “They're free to change it, but it needs to be on file with City Hall, so people don't have to enter this jungle [of finding out pricing.]”

Citing issues the administration found in haulers' reporting and customer billing, Mayor Richard Mavis said later in the evening that “it is necessary that the city have some oversight.” He also said the number of households with trash and recycling service falls short of the 90% compliance rate required by the Delaware-Knox-Marion-Morrow Solid Waste District.