Council Approves Brush & Bulk Collection Changes
During its meeting Tuesday night, the Los Alamos County Council unanimously approved changing the way brush and bulk items are collected in this community.
Council approved the Environmental Sustainability Board's (ESB) recommendation, which is to collect brush only utilizing an 96 gallon roll cart that would be specifically for organic yard trimming. Additionally, the ESB recommended offering a paid scheduled collection for bulk items.
According to the ESB's recommendation, this will maximize diversion of organic yard trimmings, which includes pine needles, grass clippings, leaves and branches. The ESB also reported that this would be the best option for reducing curbside unsightliness and be cost effective and be revenue neutral after an initial investment and perhaps create savings in future years. ESB stated the implementation plan will need to be developed and take about 18-24 months.
Further, the Council approved implementing an alternative option during the interim period. The alternative option, known as Alternative A, will start in April. Alternative A will provide quarterly brush collection and offer a paid scheduled collection of bulk items at a reduced cost of $25 per collection. This alternative further reduces cost and may provide modest improvement in diversion by reducing contamination of organic yard waste. Additionally, it will help reduce unsightliness of bulk trash items, according to the recommendation.
"It is a difficult issue," ESB Chair John Bliss said. He listed several issues the board attempted to address in its recommendation including unslightiness, safety concerns, possibility of contamination and items being left on the curb for pick up for too long. Another concern was the cost of the program, which is about $294,000 a year. Still, he said, "There is support for the program and we do wish to continue it."
Members of the public also spoke in support of the program and encouraged Council to continue it. "I think it is a great service to the community," J&L Storage owner John Courtright said. He urged Council not to "flat drop it."
Councilor Pete Sheehey, who motioned to approve the recommendation, pointed out this is not just an environmental issue, saying, "this will save us money." Councilor James Chrobocinski seconded the motion and said that this program "makes us a better community."