The possibility of residential single-vendor trash service in Osage Beach leaped forward last week when the board of aldermen on a split vote directed staff to prepare a resolution that would notify vendors that the city intends to implement single-vendor service.
The resolution will be considered at the next regular board meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 22. (The meeting was moved from March 15 to allow board members to attend the annual Convention and Visitor Bureau dinner)
That decision, which came on a 4-2 vote, does not mean the city will automatically begin the single-service trash service. If the resolution is approved, the city will notify current vendors that in at least two years the city will begin the process of shifting from the current multi-vendor service to one vendor service. The two-year requirement is based on state statute.
The city most likely would negotiate the best monthly rate possible through a bidding process on behalf of city residents. It's expected the city would manage the billing process.
Aldermen Jeff Bethurem, who originally introduced the single-service concept, offered the motion to direct staff. Aldermen Greg Massey seconded the motion. Voting to consider the resolution were Bethurem, Massey, Tom Walker and Richard Ross. Voting against were Aldermen Phyllis Marose and Kevin Rucker.
"I believe there are potentially public benefits to the citizens of Osage Beach," Bethurem said, referring to a single-service system.
Aldermen and city staff have debated the merits of a single-vendor trash service for several months, including hearing from the public on at least two occasions. One argument is that residents would probably pay a lower monthly rate with single-service; another argument is that city streets would be impacted less with fewer trucks operating on a daily basis. But, others argue that residents would lose their right to choose and would have less recourse for problems; and argue that cost to city personnel for management of the system would require more city employees and more management software.
Mayor John Olivarri offered an open invitation two weeks ago for the public to attend last week's meeting to offer input. Only a handful of people showed up. Two current trash service vendors and two members of the public addressed the board.
Before aldermen voted, Mayor John Olivarri tempered the discussion with a statement, raising a slight concern for city staff and potential expenses.
"My statement is that before we get staff heading down that road we need to know how much city time and resources need to go into investigating this and what the cost is going to be because we have other things going on currently within the city. It's the board's responsibility to direct staff, and if we feel like we want to bump certain things that we're currently working on that's certainly you're right."
Bethurem's motion was as follows: "...to add a resolution to the board’s March 22 meeting which directs staff to send the required notice to current trash providers within the city on March 23, and start to gather information and to bring forth findings to the board by June 7, and have a plan to present for the following 21 months."
Representatives from two of three current trash vendors who spoke to aldermen last week said that single-service trash should be mandatory for all city residents if the board takes that route, and that the city should handle the billing.
Both Republic and WCA representatives said their companies would support whatever the city decides. They also agreed that the city should consider a 3-, 5-, or 10-year contract with whichever vendor is selected. They also agreed that the larger the customer base the better chance for the lowest rate.
Two Osage Beach residents spoke, each taking a different approach to the issue.
Ike Skelton, who spoke at the last board meeting, reiterated his opposition.
He said he was still unsure what precipitated the sudden interest in changing the trash hauling service, noting he was unaware of any public groundswell of interest or opposition.
What's next, he wondered? Is the city going to now regulate propane service? Is the city going to regulate the size of trucks on certain streets?
Currently, if he has a problem with a trash service he has the option to "fire" that vendor and choose another. If the city goes to a single-service system, what recourse does a resident have?
"We need to protect our free enterprise system," he said.
But Lee Schuman, a former alderman and current road and bridge administrator for Camden County, said he believes reducing the number of trucks on city streets will ultimately reduce the wear and tear and reduce maintenance costs.
"I support this for residential areas," he said.
The city also reached out to Eldon, Camdenton and Lake Ozark which all over single-vendor service.
Monthly residential rate are:
Camdenton -- $8.92 and commercial service is included in the contract.
Eldon -- $9.64, with no commercial service
Lake Ozark, -- $12.29 with commercial included
As a comparison, monthly residential rates for the three haulers in Osage Beach are:
Hauler 1 -- $20.03 including recycling
Hauler 2 -- $14.00
Hauler 3 -- $18.50