The Town Council pushed back against a staff recommendation to save more than $1 million under a new solid waste contract, citing concerns over change.
The council didn’t take a vote after its discussion May 12, though. The vote is scheduled for its next meeting on Tuesday, May 26.
The town now gives residents 65-gallon recycling carts and empties them weekly.
During negotiations with Waste Industries for a new solid waste contract, Morrisville staff reviewed nine options, including some that would alter the current system.
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One option, recommended by the town staff, would replace the 65-gallon recycling carts with 96-gallon ones and shift pickups to every other week.
Trash pickup would remain the same, but by cutting out two or three recycling pickups a month, the town would save thousands of dollars a year over the course of the 10-year contract. Yard waste also would be picked up two days a month.
“We save $1.2 million over 10 years, which is quite significant,” Public Works Director Blake Mills told the Town Council.
Indeed, just after he spoke, the council also reviewed a proposal for next year’s town budget. Council members lamented the loss of $890,000 after the General Assembly did away with business privilege licenses, as well as the potential loss of another $1 million if the General Assembly decides to redistribute sales tax revenue.
Yet the majority of the town council seemed uncomfortable with the idea of changes to recycling. They cited one recurring fear: that residents wouldn’t be able to figure out the schedule.
“It’s just going to be harder for people to remember,” council member Kris Gardner said.
“Everybody knows the day, but they get the week wrong, so it just sits there,” mayor pro tem Liz Johnson said.
Assistant Town Manager Tony Chiotakis, however, said plenty of other communities have made it work.
“I’m a (biweekly) recycler,” he said. “I live in Cary. And it’s not a big deal.”
Mayor Mark Stohlman agreed. It wasn’t long ago that people barely filled up 18-gallon bins, Stohlman said, so he’s confident not many would fill up a 96-gallon cart, even if given two weeks.
Plus, heavy recyclers would get a second recycling bin for free in the proposed system, Chiotakis said. The town would pay $1.52 a month for each additional recycling bin, made affordable since the $1.2 million in savings over 10 years averages out to about $10,000 a month.
Stohlman said the plan would save residents some manual labor.
“I would love to not have to drag two bins out every week,” he said. “To me, that’s better customer service.”
But it’s not just about cost and convenience, other officials said.
Council member Vicki Scroggins-Johnson is a former homeowners association president and said one of the most challenging issues is making sure trash and recycling carts can’t be seen from the road.
It’s hard enough with the current system, she said, let alone if the town increased the size of one cart by 30 gallons and gave a third bin to some households.
Gardner brought up the same issue, but from the receiving side.
“I’ll admit I’ve gotten a letter from my HOA because they can see my carts from the road,” he said. “And that’s a real issue to think about.”
Also of concern, Gardner said, is the color of the carts. If the town does get bigger, newer carts, he said, he wants the town to have some input on what they look like.
“In another place in the state, the carts were lime green,” he said. “It really upset a lot of people. And I would not want that.”
Doran: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @will_doran