Garbage a hot topic at council meeting

Residents keep it respectful during 'bins vs. bags' discussion

It may have been a raw and snowy night, but that didn’t stop a big crowd from descending upon City Hall Monday night.

And, no, they didn’t come for the public hearing on New Hampton’s 2018-19 budget and tax levy; instead, the hot topic at Monday night’s City Council meeting came down to three words: “Bags versus bins.”

Yet, if there was a lesson to be learned Monday night, it was that civil discourse can be conducted in a respectful way. About 20 residents spoke at the meeting, and although a slim majority appeared to want the city to make the move to bins and opinions were passionate at times, there were no shouting matches between the two sides.

In October 2016, the City Council approved a new five-year contract with Jendro Sanitation that called on the city to continue the “bag system” of garbage pickup in the city, but Mayor Deb Larsen said Monday a number of residents and a City Council member, who she did not name, had asked her to put the item on the agenda.

She emphasized she and the City Council would not make a decision on opting out of the contract on Monday night; instead, she said they were “here to listen.”

And they got an earful from both those who favor going to bins and those who like the current bag system.

Those who favor staying with bags pointed out that they are “volume based,” which basically means you pay for the garbage you discard. They also pointed out that the current system encourages recycling and residents, especially those who “winter” in the South, won’t have to pay for bins they won’t use for weeks and months at a time.

Those who want to go to bins took issue with the quality of the yellow bags, the fact that animals get into the bags, the bins give the city a more clean and progressive image and would allow families who use more than one “large” bag a week to save money.

Larsen gave a short presentation before she opened up the meeting to public comments and said Jendro officials have said they would honor the bid they made two years ago if the city switched to bins. She also said that Jendro has told the city that in all likelihood that it will have to move to the bin system when the current contract ends in 2021 because of workmen’s compensation issues.

Larsen also presented a sheet that would show how garbage rates would be affected if the city switches to bins.

Households that use one small bag a month would in all likelihood see their garbage, compost and recycling fees increase by about $23 a year while those who currently set out one large bag a week would see their costs decrease by a little under $8 a year.


For more of this article, see Friday's Tribune.

New Hampton Tribune

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New Hampton, IA 50659
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