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Roanoke considers taking over city’s trash collection duties

Tired of putting its fingers in a leakier and leakier dam, the city of Roanoke may be taking matters into its own hands when it comes to the city’s garbage collection problems.

Amwaste currently is under contract with the city to collect trash, but residents and businesses alike have grown more and more unhappy with the company, flooding city hall with complaints of unreliable and spotty service.

In response to those complaints Mayor Jill Patterson-Hicks presented the Roanoke City Council Monday with a preliminary estimate of how much it would cost the city to take over garbage collection and do it in house.

“Trash has become my biggest headache,” Patterson-Hicks told the council.

City zoning administrator and purchasing agent Tim Jacobs broke down the cost estimate for the council at Monday’s meeting. And he echoed the mayor’s sentiments on the service that is being provided by Amwaste, which took over the city’s garbage collection duties just over a year ago.

“We’ve had problems for months with Amwaste,” Jacobs told the council. “And I don’t think it’s going to get any better any time soon.”

Roanoke currently pays Amwaste $16 per trash can per month for residential collection, plus a lump sum of $1,000 per month to the Roanoke Utilities Board for their billing services. That puts the city paying just over $425,000 per year for garbage collection under its current setup.

But the contract with Amwaste will be up for renewal (or cancellation) next March, and fears of a significant price hike at that time led the mayor to research what it would cost for the city to set up its own trash-collection operation.

That research, which includes pricing on the purchase of a garbage truck as well as 2,300 new residential trash carts, resulted in an estimated first-year cost of $436,000 to get a city-run operation off the ground. With those initial startup purchases out of the way, the second-year cost (and beyond) would be essentially cut in half – to $222,000 per year, according the mayor’s estimate.

That estimate is for residential service only, however. It does not include collection of the larger commercial dumpsters used by businesses. That collection would require a second truck, which was not included in the estimate presented to the council Monday. Patterson-Hicks said that commercial collection could be contracted out separately until the city is in a place to add that to its proposed in-house services.

No immediate decision is expected on the discussed change, but the city plans to seriously weigh this new option as a potential long-term solution to its trash problems.


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