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Privatized trash pickup won't start before July 1

The city's new privatized garbage disposal system won't start until at least July 1, the Common Council learned Wednesday.

Dawn M. Timm, the laid-off former Niagara County solid-waste coordinator who has been working on Lockport's plan, told the aldermen that the three prospective haulers thought the city's plan to start in April was unrealistic.

The process, which began with the haulers being asked to submit comments on the plan's structure before bidding, now calls for the final draft of the request for proposals to be posted by Feb. 28.

The waste haulers will have until March 30 to submit bids.

"We'll take about three weeks to chew over that and enter the negotiation phase," said Timm, who is continuing to work on the city's project as a volunteer.

She said the contract should be awarded in mid-May, and the first of the city's five garbage routes will be privatized about six weeks later.

Timm said another route will be added about every two weeks, so the changeover should be complete by early September.

The plan calls for city crews to continue picking up trash in areas not yet turned over to the private company.

Residents will be asked to choose among three sizes of official city garbage cans, or "totes": 35, 65 and 95 gallons. Each will have a different annual user fee, to be determined by the bidding.

Residents also will receive a recycling bin. The City of Lockport is the only community in Niagara County that doesn't have curbside recycling.

After talking to aldermen, Timm said the city will probably drop the notion of including an annual spring cleanup or "amnesty" period, in which residents would be able to put anything at the curb without being charged extra.

"Don't we have amnesty every day under our current plan?" asked Alderman Andrew D. Chapman, R-4th Ward.

Lockport currently enforces no limits on garbage disposal.

"You can't have this open-ended thing that we have going now with the private sector doing it," said City Clerk and Budget Director Richard P. Mullaney. "We can't afford it."

Timm said if there were to be an amnesty day, the city would have to put some kind of limit on it.

"A lot of the haulers said if you can't quantify it, we'll just put in a price for coming in with heavy equipment. You could see the dollar signs spinning," Timm said.

For their user fees, residents will be allowed to throw out anything that fits in their totes. Extra bags may be disposed of by paying the city for a tag that will tell the crews to collect them.

Another extra cost may be imposed for disposing of bulky items, unless the city allows one per month, as the Council discussed Wednesday.

"When the citizens realize they have to pay for this, you're not going to have as much picked up," predicted Alderman Joseph C. Kibler, R-at large.

"If you generate a lot of waste, it'll be on your nickel to get rid of it," Timm said.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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