Scio Township approves contract for residential solid waste

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After a lot of discussions, hearing many views from the public and also putting together a new ordinance, the Scio Township Board has made its decision on a contract for residential solid waste, yard waste and recyclable materials.

By a 5-2 vote at their Nov. 10 meeting, the Scio Township Board approved the contract with GFL Environmental, Inc. for the weekly collection of residential solid waste, yard waste and recyclable materials in the Township.

This contract was first reviewed by the township board on Oct. 27, but no decision was made at that meeting because several items required further clarification or revision.

The two dissenting votes came from clerk Jessica Flintoft and trustee Kathleen Knol.

As part of some of her reasoning, Flintoft said the contract had improved since it was first introduced as a rough draft and, contrary to some public sentiment, there was nothing corrupt in connection with it, but she still had some concerns about how the public views it and the process to get to a final version. Flintoft said she was concerned about the public’s trust in the township and thought the board should let the recently elected board review it before a decision is made.

Knol said she heard a lot of concerns from the public and agreed with some in the community that it did appear the board was not listening to its constituents. She said she too wanted to let the newly elected board review the contract.

The “yes” votes, again in part, cited some of the original reasons for introducing the proposal, which included reducing truck traffic on township roads and working to be more environmentally sound.

The original reasoning included: reduce negative impacts on roads from all of the garbage truck traffic; promote efficiencies for these services; promote the highest standards of service, experience and reliability at a competitive rate; educate residents in trash diversion, waste reduction and recycling practices; assist residents in decreasing the amount of solid waste sent to landfills and reducing the number of collection days within the township.

The contract says in part, “The Township, by way of an enacted solid waste ordinance, has ordained that no entity shall engage in the business of collecting, delivering, or disposing of solid waste, yard waste or recyclables generated in the Township without first being authorized to do so by a contract with the Township.”

The decision came after another round of public comments during the meeting that saw the majority of those speaking in opposition of the contract. Some in the public also said they wanted to see the new township board review it before a final decision.

Common sentiments expressed during public comment, as in many previous meetings, was transparency and communication.

Township resident Pam Boyd said the input from the community to board has mostly fallen on “deaf ears.”

Another resident, Jeff Jackson, said there seems to be overwhelming opposition to the program and contract, but yet the board still moves forward on it.

After the contract was approved, the board approved another decision in connection with it and the timing. 

It is a moratorium on enforcement of the solid waste ordinance.

“The ordinance states that is it illegal for a waste hauler to collect/transport residential solid waste within the township without a license from the Township as of today,” Scio Township Supervisor Jack Knowles said on Nov. 11. “Since we have yet to fully implement the GFL program, we have delayed enforcement of that section until March 31, 2021.”

Of the ordinance, a township report said, “The amended ordinance requires a trash hauler who wishes to service residential units in the Township to first obtain a contract with the Township. The ordinance places no limits on the number of haulers with whom the Township may contract; however, the intent is and has always been to only license one preferred vendor. The ordinance requires contracts with the Township as of November 11, 2020."

The township said there is a transition period needed to fully implement the program to the single vendor.

“While many residents have already switched to GFL, there are many who have not, and in fact may have already contracted and paid for the first quarter of 2021,” the township report on a moratorium said. “Given that, it only seems fair to allow those individuals that may still be with a different vendor, to continue through the first quarter of 2021. That will give the Township and GFL sufficient time to organize the effort with GFL and the residents and to successfully bring the program online.”

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