Garbage In, Garbage Out – by Gary Gibbs

by Gary Gibbs

What we pay for curbside trash pickup and other sanitation services in Goodyear will soon increase. Waste Management, which picks up our garbage once a week, jacked its rates by six percent two months ago, citing increased fuel costs. It hasn’t hit your bill yet because the city has yet to pass it along, but it soon will. It has to. Sanitation services is set up as an enterprise fund, an entity outside the city’s operating budget that is established to take money in and pay it out in like amounts, a break even proposition. Continuing to pay for WMs rate increase without extracting more money from taxpayers will create an unsustainable imbalance.

But Waste Management is only part of the enterprise fund equation. The city uses its own employees and equipment to provide twice a month bulk trash pickup and other highly popular services including Christmas tree recycling and household hazardous material collection. Cost of fuel and higher dumping fees are putting upward pressure on fees charged for those niceties too.

When it’s all said and done, you can expect your monthly bill to go up by a couple of bucks. No big thing in and of itself, but every time we turn around, the cost of something else in Goodyear – property taxes and sales taxes to mention two — goes up by just a couple of bucks.

At a workshop session late last month, the city council grappled with a course of action regarding sanitation services. In a burst of phony populism, the Lord Mayor said, “We need to appeal to the public to send us emails and letters and calls and let’s find out what the public wants.”

What the public wants is a little less pandering and a lot more leadership. It isn’t rocket science to presuppose that citizens don’t want their sanitation service rates increased and they don’t want any existing services pared or scrapped. It may not be possible to stave off some level of rate increase, but what has been done to mitigate the impact?

Did the city attempt to negotiate with Waste Management over the size of its rate increase? I doubt it. Had such an effort been made we would surely have heard about it. Has the city been in contact with any of WM’s competitors to see if leverage can be gained there? Not a chance. Has the city looked for greater efficiencies and reduced personnel costs for that portion of services it provides? What do you think? Has the city approached any of our neighbors – Avondale, Buckeye, Litchfield Park – to see if it can partner on such programs as household hazardous material collection? Please. Any and all of those steps require imaginative problem solving, creativity and leadership. Unfortunately, what we have for a city council is so much garbage in, garbage out.


5 Responses

  1. Analysis of the kind you are talking about Gary would unfortunately require Lord Mayor to spend less time at ribbon cuttings and chicken lunches and more time in the office. Wally would actually have to spend a summer in AZ instead of Texas and Joanne might have to spend less time primping. Lauritano might actually be capable of some coherent analysis but on occassion she comes across as a bigger airhead than our resident airhead Joanne. Pizzillo–can’t even put into words what a disappointment he is and Bill Stipp as my pal GYWatchdog so aptly put it “when is that guy even around”?

  2. Another witty article!

    However, you’re twisting the results of the meeting. I would encourage anyone to view the worksession online and make your own opinions. City council votes on Sept 12th on whether to raise rates or adjust service levels. They HAVE NOT raised rates or indicated they will raise rates.

    What also is missed by yourself, Gary, is the increase is a CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATION. Like a mortgage you may have taken on your house in 2003, it is a contract. Either party of the contract is under no obligation to renegotiate the contract. Waste Management could say “no.”, with perhaps the only option left being to buyout the contract as a penalty of termination. I figured you would have read the contract by now, or at least commented on it since it was passed by council around 2006. Nah, it’s easier to complain about it later rather than being proactive about it.

    • I’ve not read the contract, Ed, but it appears that you have. So are you telling us that Goodyear signed a multi-year garbage pick up contract that has a penalty buy out if Goodyear does not like price increases that are not defined in the original agreement? That’s what your comment suggests. Not even our incompetent council would have signed something that stupid would they? I don’t even think an agreement like that is even enforceable under law if someone was dumb enough to sign it.

  3. Howard,

    I’m going by the presentation by Mr. Lange during the work session. Since Waste Management had to front the cost of containers, they recover their capital costs over the life of the contract. I’m sure WM covered themselves if cancellation of the contract should take place. A similar situation would be if Waste Mangement announced today they were ceasing operations in Goodyear. I’m sure there’s a provision for the City that provides some financial relief.

    It is common in all types of contracts, such as mortgages, contractual services and loans. Without both parties agreeing to cancel the contract, the cancelling party will have to pay a penalty. Again, referencing Mr. Lange’s presentation, a majority of the cost increase is fuel. This is common in long term transportation contracts. No one can predict fuel prices long term, so clauses for fuel costs are included.

    • What presentation was that? What date and meeting are you talking about, I’ll go look at it. But what you are referring to now would be closed end agreements that would at least have to have a formula for fuel charges based upon some published index. That’s not how you put it to Gary. You implied Gyr would have a buy out without noting whether or not there was a formula increase around fuel costs. Two different things.

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