By Bill Robinson
The city commission gave unanimous first-reading approval Friday morning to an ordinance that would keep Advanced Disposal Services as Richmond’s commercial garbage pickup contractor.
ADS of Jacksonville, Fla., last year acquired the Kentucky operations of Veolia Environ-mental Services, Richmond previous provider.
ADS was one of what City Manager Jimmy Howard called “four very good companies” that submitted bids for the Richmond franchise.
Howard recommended ADS because it offered the lowest prices to customers in seven categories, while Rumpke was lowest in two, Central Kentucky Hauling was lowest in one and Republic Services was lowest in none.
All four bidders operate approved landfills and had good references, the city manager said, so his recommendation was based on price. ADS operates a landfill in Estill County.
Both Howard and Mayor Jim Barnes said any problems with trash in Richmond could not be attributed to ADS. Howard said he had received no complaints from commercial customers since he became city manager.
Most of ADS’ commercial customers in Richmond can expect to see some reduction in charges under the new contract, said Robert Vanmeter, the company’s general manager for Kentucky. Some customers could see a reduction of up to 10 percent, he said.
Just as its predecessor Veolia did, ADS also holds the residential garbage collection franchise for Richmond. It expires in December.
Mayor Jim Barnes said the commission normally does not vote after first reading of an ordinance, but he asked for a vote Friday for an early determination of the commission’s leaning. Second reading of the ordinance could be heard as early as Tuesday when the city’s governing board meets in regular session at 6 p.m. in City Hall. No 4:30 p.m. work session is scheduled.
After the brief Friday meeting, Commissioners Laura King and Jim Newby, along with Howard, met with Vanmeter and two other ADS managers to discuss the company’s residential service in Richmond.
King said confusion about residential pickup schedules could be reduced if ADS and the city’s free pickup of large refuse followed the same schedule as they once did. As a cost-cutting measure, however, ADS no longer runs routes five days a week, Vanmeter said. On most days, ADS starts residential pickups at 5:30 a.m., he said, the earliest the city will allow.
Both Howard and Vanmeter said they would look at coordinating and publicizing schedules.
Schedules and maps of collection routes could be included in water/sewer bills, publicized in the newspaper or posted on the city’s cable TV channel.
The city could do other things to help ADS do a better job, Vanmeter said, such as assuring that all residences are signed up for garbage collection and are paying their bills. Many cities include residential garbage bills in their utility bills and end water service if garbage bills go unpaid, he said.
While city ordinance requires garbage to be placed in containers and not left on the curb in plastic bags, many customers still set garbage out in bags, Vanmeter said.
ADS would be willing to provide every residential customer with an approved container at no cost, he said, if the city would prohibit other types of containers. Those designed for mechanical emptying make collection more efficient and are less likely to cause injury to collectors, Vanmeter said.
And, while Richmond’s ordinance requires garbage to be placed in containers, it does not require it first to be placed in bags, Vanmeter said. When containers are emptied into collection trucks, loose garbage can be blown away, he told King who said constituents had complained to her about items escaping from collection trucks.
The garbage collectors’ worst enemies are empty plastic bags, Vanmeter said, because even a slight breeze will carry them away.
“We’re going to work with the city,” he said. “If you have issues, we’re going to take care of it. Don’t be bashful about calling us.”
Bill Robinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 624-6690.