Town talks trash, recycling costs

FRONT ROYAL – The town could save money on recycling collection by taking a few steps, a consultant said Tuesday.

But some Town Council members continue to suggest Front Royal could save even more by letting a private company handle collection.

Council heard from Andrew Heacock, solid waste supervisor for the town, during a work session Tuesday. Heacock recommended the town switch to single-stream recycling – using one truck to carry materials. The study also recommends the town standardize its collection fleet, restructure routes to increase efficiency and re-evaluate staffing needs and operational costs.

The town also should re-evaluate its commercial refuse collection program, the study recommends.

Councilman Eugene Tewalt reiterated his argument that the town likely could save more money by privatizing its refuse and recycling collection. He also has suggested that the town stop collecting trash from the small number of commercial customers.

By the end of the discussion, council members had raised more questions about refuse collection and came to a consensus that they should continue their discussion at a future meeting.

Residential collection made up 33 percent of the total fiscal 2016 budget of almost $1 million while recycling covered 26 percent, according to the study. Commercial collection made up 11 percent.

The town charges residents $14.10 per month for a 96-gallon cart and $12 per month for a 32-gallon cart. Commercial customers pay $273 or $358 per trash container each month, depending on how often the town collects.

By comparison, Strasburg budgeted $305,772 this fiscal year for solid waste covering refuse collection, recycling and landfill costs. Customers pay a monthly rate of $11, according to Heacock’s data. Strasburg contracts with a private firm to provide residential refuse collection and disposal as well as bi-weekly collection and disposal of recycling.

Of the $11 per month that Strasburg’s customers pay for solid waste services, $2.05 goes to recycling collection. Recycling fees would increase to $4.10 per month for each customer if Strasburg chose weekly collection. The overall monthly rate would increase to $13.05 per customer – still less than the $14.10 paid by Front Royal customers.

Heacock suggests that the town switch to single-stream recycling by which crews collect all materials in one vehicle. Materials then are sorted at the recycling facility. Single-stream recycling would result in increased participation, lower optional costs, increased route efficiency and more convenience for customers.

Heacock provided some pros and cons to bi-weekly recycling. The town could reduce routes and transportation costs with bi-weekly recycling. However, the town would see customer participation decrease and a higher ebb-and-flow of operations and materials handled.

The study also looked at the collection routes. The town is divided into five zones each of which contains three sections. The town assigns a truck to each section to collect refuse on the same day of the week.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com