April 1 is the deadline for the city to accept the current single-stream recycling offer from Waste Management, city officials were told on Jan. 22.
The company made an offer to all cities within Pulaski County last year to handle a new single-stream recycling program at a cost of $2.76 per household each month and that’s what expires on April 1, George Wheatly, a Waste Management executive said. The ten-year contract would include increases based upon the national consumer price index — CPI — but they’d be held to no more than a 20 percent increase for the first seven years.
Wheatley offered Maumelle a new wrinkle intended to encourage their participation. He said if Maumelle gave the sanitation contract to his company at the current rate residents pay the city, his company would throw in the recycling for free.
Currently Maumelle has its own city employees who operate the sanitation routes and use city garbage trucks. He said displaced city sanitation workers could possibly work for his company.
Unlike the current limited recycling program in Maumelle where residents must separate different types of recycling items for pickup or take to the recycling transfer center, all items could be placed in the large storage bins provided.
During past discussions, city council members objected most to the huge green and yellow bins that many Maumelle residents might not have room for inside their garage.
Alderman Burch Johnson said last fall and again in this meeting that the barrels would be unsightly if they were left outside or by the side of a home.
Both Wheatley and John Roberts, director of the Regional Recycling District for central Arkansas said the single-stream recycling program has been wildly popular in both North Little Rock and Little Rock — especially in the more affluent parts of the cities. He said in some areas participation is almost 100 percent.
Each man said they likened Maumelle to the Chenal Valley section of west Little Rock and expected the same response here.
Mayor Mike Watson said he’d gotten several inquiries into the program and most of them were encouraging the city to participate.
The ease of recycling and the ability to place all items in the same container are the most popular aspects of the program, Roberts said. Many of the residents of the two neighboring cities report that up to 80 to 90 percent of their old waste now goes into the recycling program, he said.
Watson said Maumelle currently has around 7,600 households participating in the sanitation program but since Waste Management doesn’t include apartment complexes in this program the number would be closer to 7,000.
Wheatley said his company would develop separate contracts with apartments if the complexes wanted it.
Watson said the city runs such a tight schedule on sanitation pickup right now it would be nearly impossible to run the recycling routes the same day. In neighboring cities, Waste Management trucks run the same day as garbage pickup but normally later in the day.
Alderman Preston Lewis said the feedback on the recycling program he’d gotten from his constituents had been very positive.
Maumelle residents currently pay $15.50 a month but the city has a collection program. Watson noted even after the collection efforts the city made last fall, many residents are years behind in payments.
The Monitor published a list of those Maumelle residents owing in excess of $1,000 last fall and both the city and the paper received lots of criticism for releasing the data, which city officials noted was public record.
One city official also said in order to owe more than $1,000 a resident has to have not made payments in five or more years. The publicity generated some payments but a whole lot of residents still owe a lot of money to the city.
Former alderman Jamie Stell spoke indicating he was opposed to the company taking over sanitation because it would mean lost jobs to Maumelle residents.
Again Wheatley said they are obligated to hire any displaced employees so no one had to lose jobs.