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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Bullet points of City Manager Cravens letter to residents provide first glimpse of life under the proposed Single Waste Hauler.

That proposed life, detailed by City Manager Cravens,  in the 28 page MSW (Municipal Solid Waste), Recycle, and Yard Waste Collection and Disposal Program  has little to do saving  roads, or the hauling away of traditional garbage (MSW).Instead it is a omen or presage  of the coming of  a super hauler who will perform many functions for City residents  whether they like it or not.

The bullet points in the letter are not numbered. We started with ones that promise "no additional cost " because they usually turn out to be the most expensive. The bullet points from  the City manager  are in bold italics.  They  are  based on more detailed explanations found in 
City of Bloomfield Hills MSW , Recycle, and Yard Waste Collection and  Disposal Program which appears in Blue rectangles.

  •  All yard waste  will be picked up at no additional cost  and there will be no limit on quantity, as long as  the yard waste  is  in approved paper bags and brush is bundled appropriately,

The problem here is the March to the second week of December schedule which with its freeze thaw cycle is most unfriendly for our roads and will be acerbated by a two truck (garbage and leaves)  pick up..
A second problem  is the collection of leaves. If one rakes and bags their own  leaves there is no problem. If one  hires a service as many residents do (usually coupled with Summer lawn  mowing)  a problem crops up. Many services offering fall clean up often  bundle the raked  leaves  in  very larger tarps and  take the leaves with them. Apparently  there is redeeming quality in old autumn. leaves.  Bagging them for a Super Waste Hauler could involve additional expense. Some residents use leaves to fill depressions in wooded topography. Some use leaves for mulching a lawn. How much of that will be allowed or lost under the new system which will be per ordinance mandatory is yet to be determined.

  • All customers will receive expanded recycling service at no additional cost. 

 As with  the yard waste collection, Recycling  will  be mandatory by ordinance. The legality of that in terms of penalties has yet to be tested. So far the only thing expanded about the proposed recycling is the truck that hall it away. Howard's disposal  a current City hauler uses a standard sized  van  to haul  Yard waste/ Recycle. The suggest alternative  is a large multi axle truck. 
The Mayor did question, when the topic first came up last Winter, the size of a of  95 gallon container designated  for the many  2 person households  in the city. That made  the use standard recycle bins an acceptable alternative. 
 On occasion Mr. Cravens  gives the impression that  Moral Turpitude is the reason why the City's recycling sometimes lag. He often compares his City of residence   (Rochester Hills Population 71,000) with his City of employment (Population 3800) and finds the latter lacking. A  fairer comparison would be with that of Hunting Woods (population 6238,) which sponsors numerous civic programs for voluntary ecological improvement of which  increased recycling is just a part.

  • The Waste hauler will provide a wheeled card for refuse and a second cart for recycled materials. Customers may use either cart or approved refuse waste bags. There will no charge  for the wheeled carts. 
No but for most of the week the containers will take up space in your three car garage. It is property of the City so heaven help you if yours "wanders off."

  • Bulk item collections and disposal will be available at no extra cost.
 Great for getting rid of a microwave, fence parts or railroad ties.
Not good for outdoor wooded bulk which requires an evaluation and a decision by the  Waste Hauler's Brush Collection/Chipping Service manager.

  •  The Waste Hauler will provide clean up assistance, brush cleaning,and chipping service, as an optional service to customers  in need of help after a storm or natural  disaster.

In the event of an emergency or a natural disaster that service should be rendered by the City's Public Safety Department or the City's Department of  Public Works.  In last summer's super storms many very large trees came down and luckily there were no injuries in most cases. The DPW cleared and maintained the road ways. If it was your tree that fell  it bull dozed  onto  your property and you arranged  for clean up with a company of your choosing.
What Mr. Cravens  is proposing  is small potatoes  in regards to  real storm clean up  or  a disaster and normally not in the repertoire of the regular waste hauler. Most likely it would involve a referral  to  a third party. Probably  from the waste hauler to a tree company. In the Contractor Business everybody knows somebody who can do something.

 Key point  here is that  property owner "shall (mandatory) be instructed to contact the Contractor, (The waste hauling company) to quote a price negotiated by the  City and the  Waste Hauling Contractor in the initial bidding process. Does the City's interest in establishing price with a waste haulers for other services  beyond waste hauling  preclude the property owner's right to their own decision as to who to hire at what price ?  Interestingly enough that is the crux of the of the whole waste hauling issue  which will be decided on November 4th. Either you decide what happens on your property or the City does  and if the City does waste hauling is just the tip of the ice berg.

  • A Field  Manager will be available to respond to customer service issues during scheduled collection times from 7am to 5pm. 
In the last seven years of using my current waste hauler, this writer has no problems that couldn't be resolved by  a recorded message on an answering machine. Mr. Cravens  said that when he has problems in Rochester Hills that can't be resolved with Waste Hauling Ombudsman he calls the Mayor of Rochester  Hills. Unfortunately that option is not open to Bloomfield Hills residents.
 Mr, Cravens  when stating the above did not seem interested  receiving  calls at his office. This is one of a few examples of  how the our  City's main  motivation in the waste hauling situation   seems to be delegating the matter to someone else rather than  solving a problem, if  in fact a problem even exists.

 One would assume that after the first  contract expires (five years) many of the costs involved with  Customer service will be passed on to the Customer.

  • Service may be suspended  during  extended absence from the City.
Yes but you must fit in the standardized mold.

  •  The Designated waste hauler will be encouraged to provide discounts.
Five percent for senior over 65 and and a  proposed discounts for yearly pre-pay and automatic payment. While good, there is nothing new here.  Some  of these discounts are  already provided by our current haulers and all could be negotiated.

  • The Designated  Waste Hauler will provide  the same  services residents are accustomed to  receiving.  Inside and or door side pickup  would remain  available for single family homes.
Not quite. Door side pick, up by or in, the home owner's  garage, is to be handled by special vehicle, a single axle step van or equivalent.

A single axle step van
A single axle step van or its equivalent is not a  small vehicle. Admittedly it is not big as the picture above, shot with a wide angle lens to emphasize size for a sale, but it is not exactly tiny either.
With all the talk of  maintaining our roads and presumably residents newly re-surfaced drive ways you would think the City  could come up with something better than more trucks of size.

One company Nichols Disposal, which has served the City for 28 years, already has. The truck stops  and two workers run up the driveway  and in one  or two trips retrieve the trash by hand which is then deposited in the slightly smaller than usual trash truck. We have watched them. It is quick and it is efficient. 

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