County to offer two trash pickup option, one with yard waste collection

After the election, Kent County residents will have one more chance to cast a ballot before the month of November is out.

Levy Court is asking its 12,000 county trash district customers to choose which package of curbside service bids to award for the next three years.

One option includes weekly trash and single-stream recycling pickup, plus yard waste collection from April through November for a cost of $250 per year, per household. The second option includes weekly trash and recycling collection without yard waste service for $215 per year.

Ballots are slated to be mailed after Election Day and must be returned in the provided postage-paid envelopes by Tuesday, Nov. 30.

County Administrator Mike Petit de Mange said each county trash district, usually divided by subdivision or housing development, will be given the service option selected by a majority of those who return their ballots.

Currently, county customers have their trash picked up weekly by contracted haulers and their recycling collected biweekly by the Delaware Solid Waste Authority, at a cost of $224 per year.

However, changing state regulations have altered slightly the way residents must dispose of their trash and recycling.

Because of a law passed this year that requires all trash haulers to provide residential curbside recycling services by fall of next year, the DSWA is phasing out its recycling pickup services. That means whatever contract the county awards for trash services from now on will include curbside recycling.

New rules affecting yard waste disposal also are scheduled to take effect. Beginning Jan. 1, items like leaves, grass clippings and branches won’t be accepted at landfills in Kent and Sussex counties if the material is commingled with other trash.

If Kent County trash customers choose the option that includes yard waste pickup, they’ll be provided with separate 95-gallon cans to keep the material separate.

If the yard waste option doesn’t prevail, customers will have to compost their own yard waste at home, haul it to landfills themselves or pay a trash hauler directly for the service. If a homeowner tries to mix yard waste in with regular trash, the hauler won’t take it.

Low bids for the contracts all came from Texas-based Inland Service Corporation, which already provides trash-hauling services for the county. Other bidders included Waste Management, Allied Waste Services and M-T Trash of Bridgeville.

Once the ballots are tallied, Levy Court will award the contract before the end of the year.

Petit de Mange said the prices quoted by the low bidder are a good deal.

“We think the pricing is very competitive, no matter which option gets pursued,” he said. “We think the bids we received came in well within reason and we’ll ask the question of the public to see which districts want what.”

President Brooks P. Banta said Levy Court is committed to honoring the outcome of the balloting, in the interests of public involvement.

Hopefully, he said, the voting process will quell some of the controversy that has surrounded the establishment of such fees in the past.

“In previous years there has been serious upheaval among the residents who we’re desperately trying to serve in an appropriate manner,” Banta said. “Because of that Levy Court felt strongly we should have two public hearings and give the opportunity to participate by virtue of the ballot.”

Banta said Levy Court will approve whatever bid the majority of those who return ballots choose, no matter what percentage of the 12,000 customers polled respond.

Nevertheless, he anticipates a high participation rate.

“I can’t begin to presume which option people will choose,” he said. “It’s a very touchy subject and I think we’ll get back 95%.”

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