The City of Roanoke’s transition to implement its own sanitation department and begin in-house garbage collection is nearly complete, after steps taken at a called meeting of the Roanoke City Council on Feb. 28.
As a part of that process, the city will completely cut ties with Amwaste once the city’s contract with that company expires on March 31.
Amwaste has been responsible for all trash collection – both commercial and residential – in Roanoke since winning the contract for those services two years ago. But dissatisfaction with that service among Roanoke’s residents and business owners led the city to abandon trying to farm out trash collection services to a third party altogether. Instead, Roanoke has formed its own sanitation department, purchased two garbage trucks and will take on the responsibilities of residential garbage collection starting April 1.
While the city will take care of residential collection, it will still contract with a third party for commercial dumpster collection, but that third party will no longer be Amwaste. At last week’s meeting the city accepted the bid from 121 Disposal, which is based out of Opelika, for its commercial dumpster collection.
As part of the change, Roanoke residents will pay more for trash collection. The council agreed Monday to an increase from $16 per residential trash can to $18 per can, beginning in April.
Mayor Jill Patterson-Hicks defended that increase, saying that renewing the contract with Amwaste or re-bidding the services altogether would almost certainly have created a greater increase. Residents of nearby municipalities pay as much $28 per can.
“When you look at it that way, we’re actually saving people money,” she said.
The city was also in a precarious position with Amwaste to begin with. Amwaste was the only company to bid on the city’s garbage collection services when the contract was put up for bids in 2021. If, in the midst of the contract, Amwaste decided to cancel its services, the city would have been hard pressed to find a replacement company at a comparable price. Creating the new sanitation department eliminates the city’s dependence on that outside source and takes away the risk of having to scramble for a new provider.
The council has been mostly united in the process of the transition to in-house garbage collection, outside of one member. Tammi Holley has consistently voted “No” on almost all measures that have had to do with that change.
That included last week’s vote to accept 121 Disposal’s bid for commercial collection, the votes to establish the sanitation department and its budget, the vote to increase the price for Roanoke residents and the change that the city also recently made to begin charging for C&D pickup.
As one final step in the transition, the council Monday agreed to pay just over $8,000 to have the city’s residential trash cans relabeled. The city has already purchased the cans from Amwaste, so they will simply cover up the Amwaste logo and replace it with the new City of Roanoke stickers on all of the cans.