Manitou City Council debates trash-hauler system

April 20, 2010

In front of a packed house, the Manitou Springs City Council worked late into the evening Tuesday on a controversial proposal to establish a single-hauler trash system.

A vote was delayed until next month, after a discrepancy emerged on the proposed contract with waste hauler Bestway Disposal.

“While I the think is this is a fabulous idea, I think there are some business issues that need to be tied up,” said Councilwoman Ingrid Richter.

In Colorado Springs, trash service is left up to the market, meaning more than a half-dozen private haulers run trucks down the same streets each day.

Manitou officials want to reduce the load of trucks from three different haulers on their narrow and twisting streets. They also want to encourage more residents to recycle and use the $48,000 a year in fees from Bestway  - the city currently collects nothing - for street improvements.

Bestway is the only company that submitted a bid.

Residents who want trash pick-up would have to sign up with Bestway, with monthly rates from $16.25 to $18.25. All contracts would include recycling, which now costs extra, though recycling will not be mandatory. Residents with another hauler could switch immediately to Bestway or, if they have a three-month contract in place, continue until the end of July, after which no other haulers could serve homes in Manitou.

Residents without trash service would not be required to sign up, but they could not use a different hauler. Businesses, apartment complexes with more than seven units and city facilities would not required to use Bestway.

The audience Tuesday night was mixed.

“Manitou Springs is a very small town. We have narrow streets, small streets and it makes sense to have just one hauler,” said resident Steve Bremner.

“I am adamantly against this proposal and it has nothing to do with trash,” said resident Chad Holladay. “What this is about boils down to another step of government informing people how they are going to live and how they are going to do things.”

Some even came from Colorado Springs - or "that place to the east," as it was called Tuesday night, to talk about the issue.

"I wish my town had the strength and fortitude and insight to take the step you have taken," said Colorado Springs resident Kirby Hughes.

The contract discrepancy involved a misunderstanding between Bestway and the city on what would happen if Bestway wanted to raise rates, whether the rates were set for six years or Bestway could ask each year to adjust rates.

The council will hold a work session next week on the proposal and vote May 4.

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