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Should Norwalk trim recycling pickup to one truck?

Scott Seitz2 • Feb 16, 2015 at 10:07 AM

Safety-service director Bob Patusky recently offered a detailed analysis the local solid waste district study.

The $25,000 study, which is about 75 pages, focuses on many things, including different ways the city and county could improve trash collection. The city and county split the report cost.

James Skora, senior manager for GT Environmental, presented the report to city council.

"Jeff Montgomery (sanitation superintendent) and I were pleased with Jim Skora's knowledge and experience in solid waste operations in Ohio," Patusky said.

"We question some of his comparables, but feel it is quite a useful document. We question his use of private haulers from small Cleveland suburbs that largely own their own landfill operations and are not subject to flow control, as Norwalk is," he said.

"The comparables do not perform leaf pickup or run a compost pile. It takes many pages of charts to attempt to get to an applesauce to applesauce comparison. The 'open market' private collectors in rural communities surrounding Norwalk (Sandusky, Perkins, Mansfield, Tiffin, Milan) largely fall into the $20-plus per household per month range. However, open market private collectors are not the same as private haulers and aren't true comparisons either," Patusky said.

"The mayor and council members were interested in the recommendations. The one that jumped out at everyone was trimming back recycling pickup to one truck, known as 'single stream collection,'" Patusky said.

"The report estimates that the annual expense involving one truck on a route is $104,500 -- providing a benefit that greatly exceeds the cost of the study. A couple of good things about this change are that it doesn't reduce the amount of recyclables that are collected and it would do away with the residents requirement to sort it. Jeff Montgomery made this recommendation in the past. The report confirms his belief," he said.

"Mr. Skora makes other valid recommendations that reflect trends in waste management and will be taken into consideration. The city will evaluate all the effects of any change. Something that sounds good might require a huge monetary investment, while others may mean a reduction in service," Patusky said.

"Mr. Skora writes on page 43, 'The city's sanitation department performed the best as compared to other public sector sanitation departments by a large margin. This is due in part to a very well run operation...I'm still amazed to think that with all the Level 3 snow emergencies and minus-40 below wind chill days we had last year Norwalk's sanitation workers only fell behind by four hours on one day. It was not uncommon for haulers in other areas to tell their customers, 'we'll pick it up next week," Patusky said.

The city sanitation department was recognized by the state last year.

"You may recall that last year Ohio Auditor David Yost presented the department with the 'Taxpayer Hero Award' -- one of only three that he gave out last year," Patusky said.

"Mayor (Rob) Duncan was quoted in the April 5, 2013 Reflector article as saying, 'This is a remarkable achievement, reflecting the hard work and willingness of Jeff and his employees to implement new ideas in the sanitation department.' In short, the city is open to new ideas. At the same time, we do not subscribe to the philosophy, 'If it aint broke, fix it until it is.'"

"The study also offers value in that it includes information that will be used in the development of the solid waste district's "Solid Waste Plan" which will be worked on over the upcoming year," Patusky said.

"Finally, the study informs council members about our operations, provides city officials with objective data and analysis about the Huron County transfer station and the same useful information to the county about city operations. Undoubtedly, there will be things to discuss between the city and county in the future. The study should enhance the working relationship and understanding between the two," he added.

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