BARLOW - Barlow Township isn't the first Washington County district to consider using a single provider to haul trash for its residents, something residents objected to at a recent meeting.
Two other townships have gone to single haulers within the last couple of years.
"Waterford and Watertown townships are both under franchise contracts-and going with a single hauler is nothing new for Ohio townships," said Rob Reiter, coordinator for the SouthEastern Ohio Joint Solid Waste Management District. Although it's a relatively new development in Washington County, he said townships large and small across the state have maintained single hauler contracts for years.
"We've had a few inquiries in past years, but there are no other townships currently expressing an interest in going with a single hauler in Washington County," Reiter said.
Waterford Township is heading into its second year with a refuse company that services the entire district, and it's been a good move, according to township trustee Matt Cavenaugh.
"It's been very successful for us, and we get zero complaints," he said, noting that families are now paying $38.19 for trash service every quarter.
That's compared to $80 per quarter residents were paying prior to Jan. 1 of this year when the township entered into a three-year contract with Newark-based Big O Refuse.
Cavenaugh said there were few concerns about the proposed move when the trustees decided to seek bids for the service.
"We had a handful of people who bucked it at first," he said. "But if someone is going to save residents $40 on their trash bills it was a no-brainer."
Coal Run resident R.B. Morris said he took issue with the proposal, mainly because he felt the meeting to discuss the single trash hauler proposal was not advertised enough to the public.
"To my knowledge there was little information about that meeting," he said. "And they didn't seek a lot of public input."
But Morris added that his rates have gone down since the contract went into effect.
"It has saved me some money, although I didn't particularly like Big O Refuse, but they put in the lowest bid," he said. "My main objection was that we didn't get a chance for more public input."
Some small businesses in the township were also concerned that the rate they paid for large trash bins could be adjusted upward by a new hauler. But Cavenaugh said the trustees included a provision in the contract that small businesses would not face higher rates for that service.
"We also put in our bid proposal that Wolf Creek Schools and the township would get free trash service," he added.
Wolf Creek District Superintendent of Schools Bob Caldwell said that's resulted in a total savings of nearly $12,000 for the district.
"We were paying about $7,989 annually for trash service, but there was always an extra pick-up monthly for some special event, which, when added to the annual amount, came to just under $12,000," he said.
Cavenaugh said an added benefit from the single hauler contract is fewer trucks on township roadways.
"Before we had four trash trucks traveling the township roads. Now there's just one, and that's a plus, especially during winter weather," he said.
The Waterford trash hauling contract is for three years, although Cavenaugh said the contract can be terminated by either party with a 90-day notice.
As long as the contract is in effect customers are basically guaranteed they'll pay the same rate for three years.
Cavenaugh noted, however, that the contract does give Big O the right to request a rate adjustment to cover fuel costs if needed.
"But any fuel surcharge would have to be approved by the trustees first," he said. Reiter said the typical trash hauling contract is for three years and often includes the option of a two-year extension of service if both parties agree.
During a public meeting recently several Barlow Township residents expressed concerns about their trustees' plans to seek bids for a proposed contract with a single trash hauler that would cover the entire township.
The main issue for many was losing the ability to choose their own trash hauling service if a single hauler contract is signed.
Reiter said they're right.
"There would be no choice of haulers, but the rates in townships like Waterford have decreased dramatically," he added. "And I think people often tie trash hauling rates to other utilities, like sewer or water rates, but that's like trying to compare apples and pineapples."
Providers must bid against one another for trash hauling contracts, and Reiter said haulers are out looking for business.
"This is not about setting higher rates," he said. "Bids are going to be competitive because the waste hauling industry is hungry for business now."
Reiter said Barlow Township residents should wait until the bids being solicited by the township trustees come back on Jan. 28 before they make a call for or against the proposal.
"Nothing is set in stone," he said, adding that the trustees have made no commitment and would still have the option to accept or reject the bids.