Paradise Valley Town Council talks trash at community conversation

Paradise Valley Town Manager leads the April 14 community conversation on trash services within town limits. (Independent Newsmedia/Terrance Thornton)

Paradise Valley Town Manager leads the April 14 community conversation on trash services within town limits. (Independent Newsmedia/Terrance Thornton)

Paradise Valley Town Council Thursday, April 14 hosted a community conversation event meant to allow town leaders and members of the general public to better understand concerns and trepidation about the existing rules governing trash haulers and the potential for those guidelines to change.

Town leaders say primarily noise concerns and wear and tear of local streets are at the top of the list when it comes to resident concerns.

The Town of Paradise Valley has a free-market system offering residents the ability to choose their own trash hauler. Trash outfits providing service include Area Disposal, Right Away Disposal, Republic Services, Scott Waste Services and Waste Management. All trash haulers are required to obtain and maintain an annual license agreement with the municipality at a cost of $500.

Collection containers may be placed at the curb the night before collection day from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and must be removed from the street and stored in a screened area by the end of the collection day, according to the town’s website.

Paradise Valley trash haulers are required to pick-up trash two times a week while recyclables have to be removed at least twice a month, according to town code.

Kevin Burke

Kevin Burke

“This is not the first discussion on trash hauling,” said Paradise Valley Town Manager Kevin Burke at the on-set of the community conversation. “Environmental sustainablity is more and more a conversation in the community. As we go through this discussion, what problems and conditions are higher on the priority list to solve?”

Mr. Burke says at a recent meeting between town staff and representatives of the local waste industry it was discovered about half of all Paradise Valley customers do not use the second trash pick-up day.

“One of the things the town could look at would be to limit the amounts of the day of a week trash collection is allowed,” he said of potential solutions to resident concerns over trash service. “The No. 1 recommendation is to remove twice-a-week trash collection as only about 50 percent of customers put out their containers during the second pick-up of the week.”

While one week pick up seems to be leading the charge in proposed solutions, Mr. Burke offered these additional solution options:

  • The town no longer allows a free-market system and goes to a one-hauler system;
  • The town allows one hauler within newly defined service boundaries within town limits;
  • The town could limit the allowable hours of operation and days of the week trash collection can occur;
  • The town could develop a pay as you throw program where residents only pay for the amount of trash they throw away.

Mr. Burke says all options are on the table and will continue to be as potential solutions and points of action are still being defined.

“There are some definite incentives there,” he said of proposed solutions where savings would likely be realized if the town where to contract with only one trash hauler. “As council, you may look at these decisions as things you may add or take away.”

Representatives from the majority of Paradise Valley trash haulers were present and spoke positively about the potential for changes to existing services within town limits and their respective organizations willing to compromise on potential solutions.

A quality of life issue

Paradise Valley residents and elected leaders agree trash collection is a quality of life issue for many residents.

“It all started a few weeks ago from an article in the paper written by councilman David Sherf,” said long time Republic Services executive and Paradise Valley resident Jeff Andrews. “These are quality of life issues that I never really thought about until now. This is really a sensitive issue and I have been on the other side of this issue.”

Mr. Andrews says he is now retired and went to Town Hall April 14 to offer his industry knowledge and resident perspective. He says proposed changes to town rules are good for the resident but may be a challenge for the service provider.

“Are there going to be repercussions there? Yeah there are, but that is the reality of dealing with the free market,” he said. “We are Paradise Valley and we think we are special — and I think we are — and we want a service that is better.”

But Mr. Andrews did point out the pay-as-you-throw model does little to help the consumer or operator.

“Where that works is when a council wants to make a political message or a philosophical point,” he said. “It is more of a political issue or if there is a crisis at a landfill. The costs are almost the same but it does change the dynamic for disposal. It’s a philosophical issue.”

But Mr. Andrews contends there is a happy medium between resident wants and hauler needs.

“It makes sense and it is doable,” he said of changing pick-up frequency or going to a single-hauler model. “But you have to figure out who will be impacted and any of the people who provide the service today can accomplish that.”

Paradise Valley Mayor Michael Collins points out no haste decisions are going to be made.

“We are not making any decisions tonight,” he said. “We are not even getting it down to a few options. This is by no means a process that we are going to move forward on solutions this summer or even this fall.”

Mayor Collins says he intends to reach out again to gain more resident input on potential changes over the next few months.

“We want to bring residents into the decision-making process,” he said.

Paradise Valley Vice Mayor David Sherf echoes many of the mayor’s sentiments.

“This is not a trash issue — this is a quality of life issue,” he said. “I think the customizations concerns are not going to be a problem. The haulers are here and they want to be involved and this very encouraging. They really want to be a part of this solution.”

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