The city has auctioned off most of its garbage trucks and intends to use the proceeds to buy new equipment for collecting leaves and yard waste, City Clerk Richelle J. Pasceri said Wednesday.
Also, a yard waste collection program may be put into effect this year in hopes of dissuading residents from putting grass clippings in the regular garbage, to be disposed of at $30.73 per ton, the amount the city pays for disposal of trash at Modern Landfill in Lewiston.
"We kept our best packer truck in hopes of doing yard waste," Pasceri said.
The city halted its own garbage collection service in October, when Modern took over the collection chores.
Bids totaling $80,551 were received on the Auctions International website for the other six trucks, in an auction that closed Feb. 13.
However, Pasceri said one of the trucks shouldn't have been offered for sale, because the city needs to retain it as evidence in a lawsuit. That bid is expected to be canceled, so the city's net will be less than the $80,000 figure.
The garbage truck smashed into a car that had just collided with a tractor-trailer on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Wheatfield Sept. 4, 2007. The car's driver, Randall Burgio, of Wheatfield, and his wife, Rosanne, were killed.
Their estate and their two daughters, who survived the wreck, are suing the city and the companies that owned and leased the tractor-trailer.
The proceeds of the online auction are expected to be used to buy a large leaf vacuum or some other equipment that might make the annual autumn leaf collection less labor-intensive, Pasceri said. The envisioned vacuum would blow the leaves into the garbage truck.
For years, the city has been using front-end loaders to scoop leaves into dump trucks, and piling up the leaves by shoving them along the pavement with a V-shaped object made of two sections of fence lashed to the front of a pickup truck.
"We're looking at what we can do to improve leaf pickup," Pasceri said. "It's six men, five pieces of equipment, closing off streets, the wear and tear on the streets."
The city has yet to decide how to collect grass clippings, but Pasceri said residents will be asked to use their own containers. The clippings and other yard waste will be run through the city's composting plant.
City Auditor Ruth E. Ohol told the Common Council Wednesday that more than 80 percent of city residents paid their $147 "make-up" garbage bills by the Jan. 31 deadline.
The city sent out the bills in early December to cover the costs of the city-run garbage operation from January through mid-October 2011.
Its funding was cut out of the 2011 budget because the Council thought privatization would occur sooner than it did.
Ohol said $825,000 has been collected out of $1,028,000 billed.
"Although people might not have liked the fact that they had to pay a garbage bill, most people have paid it," Ohol said.
"They will [be added onto] taxes if they're not paid by the due date," Alderman Patrick W. Schrader said.
The city's first billing for user fees for the privatized service will go out in May, and billings will be semiannual thereafter.