Harter’s Fox Valley Disposal lands contract
By Bert Lehman
After months of discussion, Clintonville will be implementing a single-hauler system for garbage and recycling collection for residents.
The Clintonville City Council approved the measure at its Feb. 14 meeting. The measure was recommended by the city’s Street Committee.
Harter’s Fox Valley Disposal of Wittenberg was awarded a five-year contract for garbage and recycling collection. Harter’s had the lowest bid of the four companies that bid on the contract. The total cost of the service to residents will be $9.50 per month, which includes a 10-cent administrative fee per month to cover administrative costs to invoice residents for the service. The total cost for a year is $114.
The approval also included having the city be responsible for invoicing residents for the service by adding the service cost as a special charge on the property owners’ tax bills.
For this year, the city will invoice each property owner for a partial year of service based on the actual start date, which is estimated to be June 1. In future years the service cost will be placed on the property tax bills as a special charge.
Residents will have the option to opt out of the service if they want to continue using the Clintonville Area Waste Service (CAWS). Clintonville City Administrator Chuck Kell informed the Clintonville Tribune-Gazette that the city will send a letter to residents by March 1 explaining they have the option to opt out of the service.
To opt out, residents must contact the city in writing by April 1. If residents do not contact the city, they will automatically be considered in the service and invoiced for the service. Once a resident opts out of the service, they can’t opt back in until next year.
Street Committee discussion
The Clintonville Street Committee held its final discussion on the topic at its Feb. 7 meeting.
The four companies that bid on the single-hauler garbage and recycling collection contract included: Advanced Disposal, Graichen, Harter’s and Waste Management.
“Clearly Harter’s is the lowest cost provider of the four that submitted proposals,” Kell told the committee.
The Harter’s bid called for a monthly cost of $9.40 per customer for garbage and recycling pickup. This equates to $112.80 per month per customer.
Waste Management’s bid was $12.26 per month, while the Graichen bid was $13.88 per month and the Advanced Disposal bid was $17.82 per month.
Kell informed that Street Committee that after discussing it with city office personnel, he recommended the city invoice and collect the fees from citizens rather than having Harter’s do the invoicing and collecting. He recommended the invoicing be done through the tax roll. It was also recommended that 10 cents per month be added to cover administrative work, which would bring the total to $9.50 per month.
If Harter’s did the invoicing, it would cost customers $1 extra each month.
Andy Gayhart, general manager for Harter’s Fox Valley Disposal, was present at the committee meeting to answer any questions from committee members.
Committee member Jim Supanich said he heard a concern from a citizen about missed pickup service. Supanich asked if Harter’s had enough vehicles and manpower to cover the entire city of Clintonville.
Gayhart said he couldn’t guarantee that there would never be a missed pickup. He added that Harter’s has more than 70 trucks and 150 employees. Of those trucks, he said around 15 of them are less than a year old.
He added that Harter’s also provides garbage and recycling collection for Wausau, Howard, Suamico and La Crosse.
“Clintonville would be a medium-sized town,” Gayhart said.
If a pickup is missed, it’s usually because a fill-in driver is on the route that week, Gayhart said.
Kell told the committee that the contract includes provisions that are meant to deal with complaints. This includes a penalty provision.
Gayhart said Harter’s collects garbage and recycling in most of the neighboring communities, so if a customer does get missed in Clintonville, Harter’s can do the pickup the next day.
“I have trucks in the area all the time,” Gayhart said. “I have four employees who live in Clintonville.”
Committee member Lance Bagstad asked about an opt-out clause if residents wanted to continue using CAWS instead of paying to have Harter’s collect their garbage and recycling.
Kell said the bids included an opt-out because that is what the community asked for.
Kell recommended that the city handle the opt-out by sending a letter to all city residents, which will inform citizens that if they want to opt out of Harter’s collecting their garbage and recycling, citizens will need to inform the city in writing that they wish not to participate.
“If [residents] don’t comment back, they’re going to be in, it’s going to go on their tax bill,” Kell said.
Gayhart said Harter’s is contracted with around 80 communities to collect their garbage and recycling and none of the communities offers its residents an opt-out of the service.
“If you have the opt-out it’s going to cause a lot of headaches and a lot of extra work,” Gayhart said.
He added that citizens will not be able to get rid of their garbage for less than the proposal Harter’s offered.
Supanich pointed out that Clintonville has a unique situation because of the CAWS agreement. He asked if all residents were required to dispose of garbage through Harter’s if that would trigger the 18-month notification to CAWS that Clintonville would not be part of CAWS.
Even if residents don’t use the opt-out, Supanich said they want that option.
Gayhart said another problem that could arise is residents opting out and then placing garbage in their neighbor’s canisters.
Committee Chairwoman Julie Stumbris said the city ordinance specifies that would be illegal.
Gayhart said if there is an opt-out, Harter’s will probably be strict about the rule of all garbage must be in the canister and the lid shut.
“The more people you have on board the better,” Gayhart said.
Bagstad said he thinks some residents will opt out at first, but once they see the service working, they will want to get involved with the program after the first year.
He added that if there are complaints about residents placing garbage in other residents’ canisters, the city must enforce its ordinances.
“If we don’t have a consequence for it, the use of somebody else’s bin, there’s no reason to not continue doing it,” Bagstad said.
If many residents opt out of the service the first year but then want to take part in it in the second year, Gayhart said the route and schedule could change the second year to accommodate the new customers.
After more discussion, the committee voted to recommend to city council to approve a citywide single-hauler garbage and recycling contract contract to Harter’s Fox Valley Disposal.