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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

City Clerk Burton reports Clinton Township as "our guide" for ordinance revisions but does not account for scale. Some revisions specific to particular haulers and communities.

City Clerk Burton's memo stated goal in the wste hauling study  was to "create a matrix of each licensed waste haulers various services and pricing. and share this information as a resource for our residents"

From that lofty goal however we go to the most extensive 
over hauling  of waste hauling ordinances in City history. 

How so ? Don't know; 

At the at the December 2013 City Commission meeting City Clerk Burton expressed dismay at reluctance of the waste haulers to provide requested information. 

Price is a sensitive issue. It varies depending on circumstance.Price is always negotiable and  published or prices quoted by phone are usually the top of a spectrum.  Companies are always concerned about giving out  price lest it  be used against them. Finesse is required. 

 Whether these sensitivities were considered  in pursuit of a matrix is not known. City Manager Craverns immediately followed  the matrix report  with observations of possible code violations involving recyclables. He promised a report of said at the January meeting.

That did not happen. There was no discussion of  waste hauling in January.  At the  February Commision  meeting the massive ordinance revisions arrived. Some including the City Attorney and Mayor wondered if the ordinances might be a hardship sufficient enough to prevent smaller companies from operating in the City. Of particular note was the requirement that trucks over five years of age be prevented  from operating in town.

City Clerk Burton has offered a revision of that point in her memo.
There are other questions however. The City Attorney asked the City Manager if the proposed Ordinance revisions were discussed with the waste haulers, many of whom had been serving the City for years. Prior to tonight's meeting City Manager Cravens has yet to answer that question in the affirmative.

The question this publication has which nobody else has brought  up concerns  ordinance revision 16 which states

It has been our experience that  the residents in the City of Bloomfield Hills  are not inclined to regimentation, conformity, or having their trash habits  recorded on computer disk for  submission  to  City Hall. 

One might also ask (especially if one is the City Clerk) if this is something the City office staff should be spending hours a day on.

Last not least, such a unusal documenting requirement will eliminate  some of companies some of the residents now employ.

At February meeting City Manager Cravens said both he and Ms. Burton were residents of  Rochester Hills and they liked that City's waste hauling program. So we looked at it. First of all Rochester Hills is a Community of approximately 65,000. Republic is the single waste hauler for Rochester Hills and it also serves our community as well.

In Rochester Hills, City residents, City Hall, and Republic participate in a program called Recycle Bank in  which large recyclables gallon capacity containers are bar coded on pick up. Depending on the  volume of  recyclables collected and registered with City Hall and then Recycle Bank. residents can earn points for merchandise or discount coupons. It  may be a very good program. Whether it appeal to residents our city residents when weighted against no muss, no fuss, lots of choices, and convenience is another matter.

The frightening thing is that neither City Clerk Burton or City Manager Cravens felt obligated to tell us if this is what they have in mind with the  ordinance revision. Number 16  makes no sense unless you understand Rochester Hills  or possibly similar program elsewhere. If this program is of interest to residents is it available from other haulers ? Why are we changing ordinances before we  have the all the facts ?

Then there is the matter of judgement. Apple to raisin  analogies do not convince us that City Clerk and City Manager are qualified judges in this matter.

Burton writes"I found Clinton Township in Macomb Township to have a  a somewhat similar situation to our City. Clinton Township actually has single municipal waste hauler. However  residents and businesses  can opt out of the  the single municipal hauler program and contract with an approved and licensed waste hauler".

There is just one problem. Clinton Township with a population of 95,000 and our city of 3500 are not similar. Geographically,  Clinton Township completely surrounds the City of Mount Clemens. Opting out of the City Waste hauler program  and finding another company interested  getting into Clinton Township  is easier than doing the same thing  in tiny Bloomfield Hills. Even if you got the whole City to "opt out" it's still peanuts.

Burton expains, "When City Manager Cravens and I discussed  the proposed  changes to the solid  waste and regulations we were using  the Clinton Township program which has been in operation over a decade, as our guide.

Perhaps but there are people in the City of Bloomfield Hills reading this article who had more than a quarter of a century with  better than satisfactory performance  with the waste haulers who serve City. City Manager Cravens attests to seven of those years in his memo to City Commissions.

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