EX­PERT: DROP AL­LEY COL­LEC­TIONS

Solid waste gets over­all high marks; com­mer­cial routes could change

Ripon Bulletin - - Front Page - By DEN­NIS WY­ATT

If City Coun­cil mem­bers ul­ti­mately adopt the find­ings of an ef­fi­ciency ex­pert Man­teca will end solid waste al­ley col­lec­tion in res­i­den­tial neigh­bor­hoods.

The same re­port also calls for once a week com­mer­cial route stops tak­ing place on Mon­days and Fri­days to be shifted to Thurs­days as well as elim­i­nat­ing a solid waste truck driver posi­ton that is cur­rently va­cant and to trans­fer a cus­tomer ser­vice rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the fi­nan­cial depart­ment.

The con­sul­tant also ref­er­ences how the city is al­low­ing un­per­mit­ted third party col­lec­tors to op­er­ate in Man­teca at var­i­ous com­mer­cial ac­counts such as those that col­lect newsprint and card­board. The re­port notes the City of Man­teca has the exclusive fran­chise to col­lect solid waste in the city. He specif­i­cally noted one com­pactor box in use at a com­mer­cial ac­count was branded as be­long­ing to a lo­cal hauler of solid waste — Tracy Dis­posal.

The re­port is be­ing pre­sented to the City Coun­cil when they meet on Tues­day at 7 p.m. at the Civic Cen­ter, 1001 W. Cen­ter St. It is listed as a “re­ceive and file” re­port. While that might pre­clude the coun­cil from tak­ing spe­cific ac­tion on rec­om­men­da­tions on Tues­day, it could spark a dis­cus­sion to get a gen­eral con­sen­sus from elected lead­ers on whether they want staff to pur­sue any of the out­lined ef­fi­cien­cies and come back to them at a later date in­clud­ing the elim­i­na­tion of res­i­den­tial al­ley ser­vice.

A staff re­port to the coun­cil from Pub­lic Works Direc­tor Mark Houghton notes “the study iden­ti­fied ‘Al­ley Ser­vice’ as be­ing ‘ex­tremely in­ef­fi­cient and bor­ders on un­safe’ and rec­om­mends that the City dis­con­tinue al­ley ser­vice wher­ever pos­si­ble. This has been a con­cern for some time and staff is now work­ing to iden­tify al­ley ser­vices that can be con­verted to more ef­fi­cient street ser­vice.”

The con­sul­tant noted in ob­ser­va­tions that solid waste ve­hi­cles are re­quired to drive down al­leys twice on a col­lec­tion day in or­der to serve both sides of an al­ley. He noted the au­to­mated arms that grab carts come per­ilously close at times to strik­ing elec­tric power lines. He also saw routes where trucks had dif­fi­culty ma­neu­ver­ing around il­le­gally dis­carded or il­le­gally stored prop­erty.

In ad­di­tion the re­port notes there are ar­eas with al­ley ser­vice in Man­teca where some res­i­dents opt to place carts on the street in­stead for col­lec­tion. That cre­ates an ad­di­tional swing through the neigh­bor­hood.

The re­port stares dis­con­tin­u­ing al­ley ser­vice wher­ever pos­si­ble “will re­duce dam­ages to real prop­erty and in­crease route ef­fi­ciency.”

It does not make an es­ti­mate of how sig­nif­i­cant that would be how­ever based on the as­sump­tion of the num­ber of houses served elim­i­nat­ing al­ley ser­vice could — if there were 500 homes in­volved — al­low trucks to han­dle an ad­di­tional 250 homes. That doesn’t count any time sav­ings from drivers hav­ing to work around on­go­ing al­ley is­sues.

In the 1990s when Man­teca first went to semi-au­to­mated col­lec­tion be­fore even­tu­ally go­ing to fully au­to­mated res­i­den­tial routes, a pro­posal to elim­i­nate al­ley col­lec­tion was met with sig­nif­i­cant push­back from al­ley res­i­den­tial cus­tomers.

The city re­tained the firm of Multi En viro men­tal in Ma ch of 2018 af­ter re­ceiv­ing nu­mer­ous com­plaints from a cit­i­zen

re­gard­ing per­ceived in­ef­fi­cien­cies in the solid waste di­vi­sion two months ear­lier.

Over­all, the city’s solid waste di­vi­sion was given fairly solid marks with the study not­ing based on in­dus­trial stan­dards that in­cludes pri­vate as well as pub­lic solid op­er­a­tions that the city’s res­i­den­tial routes were op­er­at­ing at 95 per­cent ef­fi­ciency. Com­mer­cial routes on Mon­day, Tues­day, and Fri­day were rated at be­tween 92 to 99 per­cent ef­fi­cient based on in­dus­trial stan­dards while Wed­nes­day and Thurs­day routes were be­tween 77 and 88 per­cent ef­fi­cient. The switch of ac­counts that have only one day col­lec­tion each week that hap­pen to fall on Mon­day or Fri­day to Thurs­day — the day with the least sched­uled col­lec­tions — is seen as a way to bal­ance the route load.

The city’s “drop box” op­er­a­tion — the large bins the city drops off for con­struc­tion and other such pur­poses — is con­sid­ered by the con­sul­tant to be “very ef­fi­cient”. The city’s two drop-box drivers av­er­age 18 loads a day be­tween them.

Elim­i­nat­ing the solid waste oper­a­tor po­si­tion that’s va­cant and trans­fer­ring one cus­tomer rep­re­sen­ta­tive ser­vice po­si­tion to the fi­nance depart­ment would save the Solid Waste Di­vi­sion $170,000 an­nu­ally. The di­vi­sion op­er­ates as an en­ter­prise fund where rates charged to cus­tomers for ac­tual ser­vice de­liv­ered and not taxes per se cov­ers the cost of op­er­a­tions.

The con­sul­tant also ques­tion whether the city had too much man­age­ment for its Solid Waste Di­vi­sion op­er­a­tion given it is a city of 81,450 res­i­dents.

The ef­fi­ciency re­port comes just as the city is be­ing forced to look at es­tab­lish­ing a sur­charge to off­set in­creased costs now that re­cy­clables are be­ing land­filled since China — the largest im­porter of this coun­try’s re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als — stopped tak­ing them in March when they be­came dis­sat­is­fied with the con­tam­i­na­tion rate that was forc­ing them to bury a num­ber of loads shipped over­seas in­stead of pro­cess­ing then for re­cy­cling. If re­cy­clables are con­tam­i­nated by di­a­pers, food waste and such they have to be buried.

The sur­charge for res­i­den­tial cus­tomers could come to at least $1 a month but an ex­act cost won’t be known un­til the city is through look­ing at all of its op­tions. The com­mer­cial charge would likely have a sig­nif­i­cantly higher per month in­crease.

Based on 22,685 hous­ing units a $1 sur­charge on an an­nual ba­sis would gen­er­ate $272,220 a year.

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