Surveys pick up no clear route for trash service

By JONATHAN STREETMAN
Herald Staff Writer

The results are in and the citizens of Huntingburg aren’t sure if they want a unified trash service or not.

In the February billing cycle, the city sent surveys asking residents to indicate the importance of a trash and/or recycling service. The results were forwarded to a research team at the University of Southern Indiana.

Dr. Mary Hallock Morris presented the results from those surveys Thursday evening at the Common Council/Utility Board meeting. The city received 537 surveys, more than enough for a valid survey, and saw mixed results. Mayor Denny Spinner read the report as presented.

“The primary finding is that there is not a clear mandate for or against the city providing residential trash service,” Spinner said.

The respondents indicated 50 percent were very or somewhat interested, 41 percent indicated they were not interested and a tick more than 9 percent were neutral.

The city also asked about curbside recycling, which received a more favorable response with nearly 58 percent of respondents stating recycling is important to them.

Spinner said he was pleased with the amount of surveys received. Members of the council, similarly happy with participation, said they’ve heard a steady amount of public input on the matter.

Council member Steve McPherron said with nearly 60 percent of respondents in favor of a recycling program, it’s worth investigating the cost of hiring an outside vendor to handle the service.

“I’m in favor of offering some type of recycling program,” Council member Glen Kissling said. “I’m with Steve, let’s see what it would cost us if we could get a third-party company (to run it).”

Morris said the biggest concern with individuals on the trash service was pricing, especially from residents already paying less than the proposed $15 per month. Many residents indicated they take only a few bags at $1.50 a piece to a local dump per month. Others are serviced by a handful of area companies who offer curbside trash pickup.

Both Jasper and Ferdinand offer a municipal trash service in which residents pay per bag.

“The mayor and I had talked about the cost and perhaps it would be much lower than the $15,” Morris said.

McPherron said the $15 mark was not received from a bid but was merely a point from which to work.

“The other thing — it was a real tug of war between convenience and cost. I think if you tell people how much you’re really talking about when it comes to the cost that’s going to help you,” Morris said.

City Attorney Phil Schneider reminded the council that one of the reasons for researching a one-vendor service was to keep truck traffic low to preserve city roads and decrease the number of trucks in neighborhoods.

Council member Linda Summers said the majority of the people she spoke with were happy with the service they have, while Kissling said many citizens would oppose moving to a one-company system.

“They were OK with it as long as it was their provider,” Kissling said.

The council agreed it made sense to research the actual costs for both trash and recycling services. A proposal will be prepared and sent to local businesses, although council members agreed moving to mandated a one-company system was not the best option at this time.

A decision on either a trash and/or recycling curb side service is not expected in the near future.

The full report will be posted on Huntingburg’s website today.

Contact Jonathan Streetman at jstreetman@dcherald.com.




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