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Private trash service might be an option
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Gainesville officials say they plan to explore private trash collection for residents in the next few months.

On Monday, Mayor Ruth Bruner directed city staff to issue a request for proposals from private haulers interested in taking over the city’s trash service.

So far, the mayor’s directive is only an effort to look at all options regarding cutting costs related to residents’ trash service.
Gainesville residents receive a rare, twice-weekly backdoor trash collection.

For years, the city has searched for ways to wean its Solid Waste Division off the support of city tax dollars, and instead make user fees pay for the service.

Last year, in an attempt to make the department self sufficient, the City Council raised trash collection fees for residents.

Last month, officials from the city’s Public Works Department proposed changing the current service to a once-weekly curbside service.

The City Council, which had initially backed the Public Works Department’s proposal, reneged after receiving backlash from residents who were resistant to the change.

The council then opted for an eight-week trial-run of a weekly backdoor service. That pilot program began Monday, and city officials will discuss the results in two public meetings in July.

Assistant City Manager Angela Sheppard said city officials will also be prepared to discuss whether privatizing the service is an option by then.

“We feel like it’s such a huge issue it’s best for us to get all the options on the table,” Sheppard said.

City officials have said they previously looked into privatizing residents’ trash service, but discarded the idea.

But on Tuesday, Sheppard said the city had only had general discussions with contractors.

The reason city officials did not look further into privatization then, she said, was because the private haulers they consulted were only interested in once-a-week curbside garbage collection.

For the most part, the haulers did not seem interested in backdoor service because of the liability, Sheppard said. The city also found that the private contractors had limited interest in hauling residents’ yard trimmings, a service the city provides.

Before she sends out the request for proposals this time, Sheppard said she wants to make sure she includes all of the things the city wants from a private hauler.

One of those includes a request that the private contractor employ the city’s current Solid Waste employees.

“We would definitely request that they would hire our employees,” Sheppard said.