The Solid Waste Advisory Board Recommends Rebidding Garbage Collection Service

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Roll carts and hungry bears were on the agenda at last night’s Kodiak Island Borough Assembly work session. The Solid Waste Advisory Board made several recommendations to improve waste collection around the city. One suggestion it had was to remove roll carts from streets along the brush. SWAB chair Nick Szabo said those are most likely to attract bears. He said if you go along Hillside Drive and you look towards the undeveloped side, you see trash in the bushes.

“And your first reaction is, why now, what thoughtless person threw their garbage up alongside the road? Well, it isn’t thoughtless people. It’s bears. Because what they do is they come down here and they sneak into a garbage can, and then they run across the road with a bag or whatever they can take, and then they go through it up there in the brush and scatter the stuff around and so forth.”

Szabo said dogs and birds also scavenge through the garbage. Several solutions he mentioned were to remove the roll carts or erect a buffer.

Assemblyman Larry LeDoux asked why the borough uses roll carts if they are ineffective, and Assemblyman Dan Rohrer said roll carts are an improvement over the curbside garbage service the city used ten years ago.

“You could put whatever hefty garbage bag you wanted or a tote or a garbage can with or without a lid, and all of that on garbage day just got piled by the curb, and the garbage men had to walk by and physically lift whatever you figured out – engine block whatever- whatever you figured out how to get beside the sidewalk.”    
Rohrer said garbage men can more easily pick the trash up from those containers.
Another suggestion SWAB made was to establish a Reuse Center, which Szabo said would accept solid waste, recyclables, and unwanted items that others could use. However, establishing a structure or other form of shelter for the facility – even if unstaffed – would be a large project. In the SWAB powerpoint presentation, budget estimations for the different options were $150,500 for containers, $226,000 for a weather port, and $400,000 for an insulated panel. Assemblyman Mel Stephens pointed out how high those numbers are.

“Nick, what you consider to be a modest cost and what I consider to be a modest cost are not the same, so I am all for the idea of very gradually getting our feet wet on the Resuse Center, but very gradually. Start off slow and see if it in fact works.”

SWAB also recommended the council find another garbage collection service besides Alaska Waste. Szabo pointed out that many of SWAB’s new recommendations are not included in the borough’s current contract with Alaska Waste, which he said expires in June 2017.

“So, now is not too early to start renegotiating the contract, because if you decide to go forward with these recommendations, Alaska Waste may decide they don’t want to do this stuff. Or maybe someone else may say, oh, I think I can do it, and maybe I can do it … give the borough a better deal.”

Borough staff agreed to present its thoughts on the contract and put numbers together comparing Kodiak garbage transfer costs to other communities at an upcoming meeting. The assembly’s next regular meeting is scheduled for January 7.

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