Your Questions About Annapolis' Trash Fees Answered
Annapolis Patch sits down with city leader to get answers to questions residents have about the upcoming changes to trash removal.
Bruce Miller, Annapolis' Finance Director, took a few moments to answer some of the questions and concerns posed to Patch by readers regarding the city's decision to privatize its trash and leaf removal services.
A full list of the changes as a result of the 2013 budget can be found here.
My trash pickup has been cut in half, so why hasn't my bill?
The short answer is: Your trash pickup hasn't been cut in half because residents can still put as much garbage out for removal as they have in the past.
Miller said a substantial portion of city trash fees goes to what's called a tipping fee, which is the cost paid by the city to dump trash into a landfill.
"If we put a million pounds of trash in a landfill, whether it's once a week or twice a week, we are still putting a million pounds of trash in. And we have to pay for that," Miller said.
Miller said if residents want to see their fees reduced by half, they would need to reduce the amount of trash they put out by half. The city pays a much lower fee for recycling than it does for dumping.
Why did you get rid of bulk trash pickup?
Miller said Annapolis residents would still have bulk trash pickup, but the service is switching to "on demand" pickup.
For example, if you have a mattress that you want to dispose of, you will call a number and setup an appointment for someone to come pick it up. There will not be set dates to put bulk trash out at the curb.
He also said that residents might not realize just how much bulk trash costs the city.
"Mattresses in particular are very expensive. We have to pay for those," Miller said. "A lot of communities will make you pay $200 for a mattress disposal, $100 for a refrigerator or $50 for a computer."
Miller said the city opted against that route because it wanted to guard against illegal dumping.
I heard privatizing trash pickup saved the city more money than residents will see reflected on their bills?
Miller said, "We know there is going to be a savings, but the extent cannot be quantified."
Trash services are scheduled to be privatized in September, but it could be delayed until October or even November, which would change the costs. He also said the city could decide to adjust services based on consumer demands.
The important thing Miller wanted residents to know is that he "can't pull those excess fees."
Solid waste disposal is an enterprise fund, which means it operates like its own business. Profits—known as excess fees—can't be taken out by him or anyone at the city to use for other things.
"In the end, the rate payer will benefit in the future either with lowered fees or expanded service," Miller said.
What is happening to all the city's trucks and employees?
Miller said the city's fleet of sanitation trucks are "on their last legs; they have reached full depreciation."
It was a contributing factor in the city's decision to go the route of privatization because replacing the entire fleet would have been expensive.
Miller said some of the trucks will be sold, and the Department of Recreation and Parks may keep some.
The employees had two options: They could take jobs offered by the private collection company, or they could apply for open positions within city government.
Miller said the hope is that no one would need to be let go, but some people may end up with different salaries depending what jobs are available at the city.
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