city garbage

Olean city officials expect hundreds of households to sign up for new monthly-fee garbage disposal after the Common Council approved a new contract with Casella Waste Systems on Tuesday which includes an option for that service or for the existing tag-based scheme.

OLEAN — Olean residents will get to choose between garbage tags and rolling totes to get rid of their trash later this year.

The Olean Common Council approved a new contract Tuesday with Casella Waste Systems, which not only makes the company the only one allowed to pick up curbside residential solid waste, but allows users to choose whether to buy individual tags as have been used for decades or switch to a monthly flat fee for one of three sizes of provided waste cans — from 35 to 96 gallons.

City officials said they hope to sign the contract this week with a Nov. 1 start date.

Bob Ring, director of the city’s Department of Public Works, said officials think there is high demand to allow both options in the city after two years of discussion about offering both the tags and the rolling cans.

“We’re anticipating about 1,000 people will sign up for (cans) out of our about 5,000 users,” Ring said. “We’re excited to get going with this. I think it’s going to be a good system.”

The contract offers three tote-based options for weekly pickup — a 35-gallon tote at $8 per month; a 64-gallon tote at $16 per month; or a 96-gallon tote at $24 per month.

The sticker system will remain in place, but prices will go up slightly. Under the new rates, 15 gallon stickers are $1.44, up 13 cents from the current rate; and 30 gallon stickers are $2.90, up 26 cents from the current rate. The current rates went into effect in August 2018. Ring attributed the rise in prices to changes in the recyclables market — previously, Casella was paid for recyclable materials, but in recent years has had to pay to send them to recyclers.

Even without the about 10% higher tag prices, Ring said there could be a savings for those switching to cans.

A household generating enough trash to use a 30-gallon sticker per week would see a savings of between $3.60 to $6.50 per month by switching to a 35-gallon tote at the flat rate, totalling $54.80 a year in savings. A household generating enough trash to use two such stickers per week would save $109.50 with a 65-gallon tote.

Those who have more waste than a tote will hold can augment their can with as many stickered bags as necessary, Ring said, and recycling will continue to be included — an option of a tote would allow for weekly pickup of recyclables instead of waiting to fill a similar-sized garbage bag or resident-owned can.

“You’re going to get all the same services,” he added, with free zero-sort recycling and brush removal in the summer, and optional pickup of white goods four times a year.

City code requires recycling when using municipal solid waste pickup, and Casella removes recycling when placed out with tagged garbage — or with cans in the future.

Billing for the totes will be through Casella, Ring said, and local phone number for customer service concerns will be provided.

Ring said he wants the totes to be in use soon.

“It’s really going to be up to Casella when they can roll out the totes on a large scale,” he said, with Casella and the city expecting to start a campaign to inform residents of their options soon.

The four-year contract has the option for two three-year extensions — a total of 10 years. The last contract had the same structure, Ring said, but was extended for an 11th year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The exclusivity will end other private collections of residential garbage at the curbside, Ring said, but will not affect other collections.

“It doesn’t affect commercial properties,” Ring said, adding dumpsters will not be affected. In addition, other collections of residential garbage may still be done from properties, just not at the curb. Such haulers need to register with the city’s code enforcement office, according to city code.

Eliminating such pickups had three advantages, he added.

“We’ll get a better price by giving companies an exclusive pickup” contract, Ring said, noting other benefits include less traffic congestion from fewer trucks as well as less damage to roadways from just one vehicle pounding the pavement. “Refuse trucks are heavy … they’re not kind to our side and dirt roads. The less they are on a road, the better.”

(Contact City Editor Bob Clark at bclark@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @OTHBob)

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