City considering revisions to its trash and recycling program

At its March 27, 2018, meeting, the City Council will look at potential changes to our trash and recycling program. The proposal, outlined in a memo to council and included below, would offer three volume and frequency options for households to select from, include heavy-duty wheeled bins that are less susceptible to wind and appropriate for automated collection, and have the convenience of billing included with other city utilities such as recycling.

The proposal seeks to balance the desire of residents to have choices to meet their household’s needs, incentives to recycle and compost, address challenges the Johnson County Refuse faces meeting its workforce needs, modernize the system to increase the convenience for residents and reduce the strain on city staff managing the sale of trash stickers.

As with the current system, this proposal would not generate profit for the city.

The information, as provided to the city council, is below. To contact your city councilors, visit here.


After the discussion at the City Council meeting on February 13 and as a result of the number of residents requesting less frequent pick up of refuse, Steve Smith with Johnson County Refuse has proposed an alternative billing and garbage collection structure that would offer additional choices for residents. The recycling component remains the same as previously proposed in that all single family and duplex units will be provided a 95‐gallon recycling receptacle that will be emptied
weekly. The cost per month for recycling will remain the same at $4.85. The cost per month for City clean up day will remain at $0.30. These costs are built into what will be billed monthly to each account.

The proposal is as follows:

  • Option A is a 65‐gallon trash receptacle with weekly curbside pickup.
  • Option B is a 35‐gallon trash receptacle with weekly curbside pickup.
  • Option C is a 35‐gallon trash receptacle with every other week curbside pickup.

All costs below are on a monthly basis.

Description Current Option A Option B Option C
Recycling $4.85 $4.85 $4.85 $4.85
City Cleanup Day $0.30 $0.30 $0.30 $0.30
Trash $10.40* $14.65 $12.65 $7.65
Total $15.55 $19.80 $17.80 $12.80

*Assumes two stickers per week.

Based on current average usage, the default option will be Option A. Requests are required to obtain the smaller receptacle to participate in Option B or Option C. If an account has not requested a different size on deployment of the program, the account will receive a 95‐gallon recycle receptacle and a 65‐gallon trash receptacle. Johnson County Refuse will provide each account with receptacles. Changing the size of receptacles will be offered. The first change is no cost within the
first 90 days of the program being deployed. Accounts that opt to change the size of receptacles later in the process will be charged a fee to cover the change. The proposed fee is $30 per change to increase the size of the receptacle and $25 per change to downsize the receptacle. Trash receptacles in Option C will have a different color lid than the receptacles used in Option B. If receptacles are set out on the wrong week, they will not be eligible for pick up. Option C would encourage recycling and composting. Garbage that is typically smelly could be placed in a compost receptacle and set out weekly for pickup for those accounts who participate in the composting program.

Curbside pickup of additional items will be available the same as it is currently. If an account has bulky items to dispose of, they can call Johnson County Refuse to determine the number of trash stickers necessary to have the item picked up curbside. With the new trash program, the price of single stickers will increase from $1.20 to $3 per sticker to encourage reuse and recycling. From a staffing perspective, the automated, direct billing system resolves a couple of issues. On the City’s end, it eliminates the sales of annual stickers, a process that takes a tremendous amount of staff time during the months of May and June. And because the sale of these stickers coincide with a busy time of year in utility billing (new accounts & account change outs), it can get hectic at City Hall. This change would certainly improve efficiencies and allow for the free up time at City Hall. JCR has stated that workforce continues to be a challenge for their business (workforce is a larger issue within the corridor as well). An automated system would require less employees and the job would be less demanding, ultimately spurring more interest in these positions. On average, a sanitation worker in North Liberty empties nearly five tons of garbage on a regular route.

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