Less truck traffic and better service? Dexter Township learns about single hauler

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Is single hauler service a solution to Dexter Township’s garbage pick-up issues?

Over the past few months, many households in Dexter Township were left scrambling to find a new service after the departure of GFL Environmental from the community.

In August, GFL Environmental said it values service excellence to its customers, but “unfortunately, external factors caused by the COVID 19 pandemic, such as a national labor shortage and a lack of truck parts availability, have impacted our ability to maintain the high level of service our customers have come to expect from us, and we expect from ourselves.”

“As such, GFL must eliminate some of our residential customers with subscription service to maintain a consistent service level for communities with which we are contractually obligated,” GFL said.

This led township hall to think more about possible solutions with one being possibly having a single hauler system.

The Dexter Township Board learned more about this in a presentation at its Nov. 16 meeting. Washtenaw County Public Works Director Theo Eggermont was on hand to give an overview.

One point Eggermont emphasized is the need to do a lot outreach in the community, which could help better understand how residents feel about this type of service and if there’s interest.

The presentation gave some terms to keep in mind:

Subscription/Open market: Area where every resident picks their own hauler

Franchised (Preferred) Hauler: Geographic area where local government has an agreement with hauler, does not exclude others outright

Single Hauler: Collection service for entire area coordinated by local government

Ordinance: Code of rules that allows local government to control the collection service within area

◦ Needs to have penalties that can be enforced otherwise is relatively meaningless

◦ Ordinance doesn’t have to be acted upon, but allows township to do so if desired

Eggermont detailed the pros and cons with a single hauler with one big reason for it being reduced impact on roads by having less truck traffic over the course of the week. Another related reason for fewer trucks is that it could mean fewer greenhouse gases.

Other pros include:

It could be a standardized service with everyone getting the same level of service with a same day collection for the area.

It can increase service levels at a reasonable cost (i.e. bulky waste) and there could be also reduced costs overall when competitively bid.

The service could be more efficient as a hauler can optimize service, which may be better with a contract.

And it could also allow the township to have more power over the hauler that individuals don’t have (quality control).

The cons include:

Freedom, which means residents, might be limited in what companies they can work with.

Also, a couple people may have a higher price and it would require some work from the township, which could include having to create an ordinance, engage the public to determine service level, lots of outreach, get buy in and creating a contract that would have to be managed while handling calls from residents.

Eggermont said the next steps for the township could be determining whether or not they want to create an ordinance, which could take some time. He said they would have to consider various details, such as HOAs, snow-bird clause, and a possible opt-out option.

Going forward, he told the township board that he’s there to help them learn more about the process and is looking to apply for a grant to provide assistance since there are a few townships that might be interested in doing the same thing.

So what do you think Dexter Township?

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