Contract finalized, Bloomington’s organized collection plan moves forward

With a bit of fanfare regarding the amendment to Bloomington City Code, the city has taken its next step toward organized solid waste collection.

The Bloomington City Council approved a services contract with its seven licensed haulers during its Dec. 21 meeting, setting up the parameters for organized solid waste collection in Bloomington. The contract was originally scheduled for council approval in late November, but was delayed due to the legal review on behalf of the licensed haulers.

Organized collection, which will divvy up trash and recyclable collection amongst the haulers, aims to reduce the number of trucks traversing city streets. Through the city’s negotiation with the haulers, fees for collection services will be standard across the city, regardless of the hauler assigned to a neighborhood.

Although competitors in the open market, the companies have had to work together in negotiating the terms of a service contract with the city. Each hauler will maintain its market share under organized collection, but the companies will no longer be canvassing the same neighborhoods during their weekly collection in the city.

The haulers are part of a separate legal entity – Bloomington Haulers – that is signing the services agreement, which details the business relationship between the haulers and the city. The agreement includes provisions for service delivery, payment, indemnification and risk management. It’s a five-year deal with an option for a five-year extension, according to a memo from Jim Gates, the deputy director of public works.

The contract calls for two years of fixed rates with 2-percent increases in pricing in years three and five of the contract. If the contract is extended five years, 2-percent increases are permitted in years seven and nine.

One of the benefits touted by city officials has been the reduced cost of service across the city. The average household cost in 2014 was calculated at $26.72 per month for garbage and recyclable collection. That rate was based upon invoices submitted voluntarily to the city, and took in account the varying sizes of trash containers that customers used.

Under organized collection the average bill will be $19.52 per month, with the monthly bill for households using a small container being $15.55. Households with medium containers will pay $18.89 and households with large containers will pay $22.22.

Yard waste collection will be offered at an annual rate of $79.50.

Collection of large items and electronic waste will be offered as a subscription service, and the city’s annual spring cleanup program will continue. The contract for collection is in place for 2016, and the service will continue under the terms of organized collection in 2017, at a reduced program cost, according to Gates’ memo.

Temporary termination of service will be granted to customers who will be absent from their homes for four or more weeks.

In addition to the services contract, the council voted unanimously to approve the City Code amendment that creates organized collection. The continued public hearing on the matter brought multiple questions about the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center, often referred to as the garbage burner in downtown Minneapolis. Under organized collection haulers will be required to dispose of trash through either HERC or a similar facility, and the rate customers will be charged for solid waste collection is tied directly to the fee being assessed for disposal at HERC, regardless of which facility a hauler chooses to use.

An increase in the HERC disposal fee for haulers earlier this month resulted in an increase in the initial rates for organized collection. The average rate for residents under organized collection was projected at $18.49 when the council approved the organized collection plan in June.

The target date for beginning organized collection is June 6, 2016, but that date may be delayed if a court ruling favors residents who are attempting to determine the future of organized collection plan by a citywide vote. A lawsuit challenging the city’s rejection of the submitted petition language is awaiting a verdict in Hennepin County District Court. A judgment on the matter is due by Jan. 21.

Information about organized collection is available online at bit.ly/2016trash.