The Town of Payson has a trash problem.
Those who don’t want to pay for curbside garbage pickup service either dump it in the forest or overwhelm local businesses’ bins.
Out-of-town visitors often do the same.
Service options now include four residential garbage companies. Four hauling companies means four different days residents have to hear a truck go up and down their street. Plus, the town has to pay for the damage caused by heavy trucks that stress roads with their thousands of pounds.
That’s a stinky mess for the council to handle, but town staff need answers to an expanding pile of complaints from residents.
“Some of the most common nuisance complaints (are) open containers on a lot that leads to rodents or ravens scattering the trash,” said Sheila DeSchaaf, deputy town manager and public works director, during an April 6 council work study meeting. Her description was of some residents’ preference to store up trash in a trailer, then take it to the garbage dump.
Town Manager Troy Smith was “very surprised being new to the community ... you have nice trail systems, and then you see a recliner or a bag in the forest.”
The problem will only grow unless the council considers some options, said DeSchaaf.
She pitched several ideas to address the concerns.
The first: The town creates its own trash department, as it did for water.
The second: Put the town’s trash needs to bid and pick the best fit.
“Or come up with a hybrid between those two,” said DeSchaaf.
Smith has experience with both systems of town trash collection.
In one town, “we had our own fleet of trash trucks,” said Smith and another town, “provided municipal service, but through a contract. We could leverage the whole community.”
Council members agreed the heavy trucks create damage and noise.
They disagreed on how to fix the problem.
Mayor Tom Morrissey advocated for the “free market system” that allows a consumer to choose their service.
Councilor Barbara Underwood has seen the trash service her children receive in other towns “is less than ours.” She spoke up for the many restaurants, gas stations and businesses in town that have “all this excessive trash” in their dumpsters.
Councilor Scott Nossek wondered when the council last spoke of garbage.
“It would be before I started,” said DeSchaaf, who has worked for more than a decade for the town.
Nossek asked if the town had a code or ordinance that requires curbside pickup.
DeSchaaf said the town does not, but “we could amend the code to require that.”
Vice Mayor Chris Higgins confirmed his concerns over street damage. This made him say he didn’t feel the council could ignore the problem, so he asked staff to explore options for a bid for townwide trash service.
Which caused Councilor Jolynn Schinstock to request an analysis on how many “employees and people and families would be affected” if the town decided to pick one private company over another.
Smith didn’t think “we could predict that,” as it would “depend on the haulers.”
He believed that if the town put service out to bid, the contract would be large enough to attract a company from outside the area to move to Payson.
A bid could also include ideas on how to provide recycling.