Don't mess with our trash haulers. We like them. Even in the absence of consistent recycling pickup.
That was pretty much the general consensus of thousands of residents who live in a trio of districts in unincorporated areas of Santa Fe County.
And it was a message that has now sent the county’s newest solid waste plan back to the drawing board, with officials still in search of ways to providing recycling collection in those far-flung areas while not upsetting the residents who have long grown accustomed to their haulers and their rates.Craig O’Hare, energy programs specialist for the county, tells SFR on Thursday that staff might propose a different idea to instead require the current half-dozen haulers to provide recycling services, then pass their costs off to their customers in the name of uniformity. The topic is next scheduled for a discussion as an "informational item" at the County Commission's July 28 meeting.Thousands of residents showed up a series of meetings in late May and cried foul at a county proposal that would have consolidated the current hauling system and resulted in one hauler per district, with recycling services required of them.But residents didn't like the county intervening and choosing their hauler through a selective and competitive bidding process, which had been scheduled to get under way in August.The county believed the consolidation would have led to less traffic along county roads among haulers and quite possibly even reduced rates, while successfully diverting more waste in keeping with the county's targeted recycling goal. Yet residents didn't buy the plan, which covers a vast area consisting of 15,000 households that stretch as far south as Edgewood, as far north as Tesuque and as far east as Lamy.“The county commission hasn’t abandoned the notion of selecting a single hauler for each district," O’Hare says, "but it has decided to take a step back and have us look at other options.”The commission’s reversal, made clear at its meeting on Tuesday, effectively put the skids on the bids for proposal, O’Hare says.Also instrumental in halting the county's plan was an online petition circulated by resident Andrea Hathorn, who managed to muster nearly 400 signatures in moveon.org "The purported reason for the ordinance is to expand recycling by providing curb-side pickup of recyclable materials, probably excluding glass," Hathorn says, adding that Ibarras Trash Services of Santa Fe currently provides such service, including glass pickup. "I am very satisfied with my current provider and disturbed by the intrusion of a government-sponsored monopoly into a locally competitive business and by the possibility that our local businesses will be harmed or eliminated," she wrote. " I urge you not to pass this ordinance."
Santa Fe Reporter