Over the last 5 years the City has initiated many productivity and efficiency improvements to help curtail the financial crunch that we’ve been facing. Those efforts have worked to the tune of about $1 million dollars in workforce reductions and another million in materials and supplies. Based on that success we got interested in looking at what we could do to improve trash collection to save residents’ money and raise the quality of service at the same time.
The logic isn’t all that complicated — in the trash collection business density of customers is the key driver of financial success. Drive time is non-revenue producing, it’s dead time, and with gas prices as high as they’ve been drive time is becoming very expensive so the goal is to maximize revenue producing activities (picking up the trash) and minimize non-revenue time.
Mathematically the haulers want to see a rising ratio of collections or revenues earned per mile. Understanding the importance of that ratio, the City did some homework and saw an opportunity for us to dramatically improve the revenue mile numbers by bidding trash service citywide. That’s a game changing sort of improvement and based on what we saw in other cities (and even a Kent homeowner association reports saving 25% by bidding just their neighborhood), that kind of change has the ability to save resident’s money and hopefully improve service through the leverage of volume of accounts.
I shared the powerpoint presentation that the staff had prepared in a blog post a couple of weeks ago Blog Post that details the pro’s and con’s but I thought I would also follow up with a copy of the draft bid specification for anyone that enjoys the legal-ease of contract language. Here’s the Draft Bid.
The terms of the bid are specifically broad in order to allow residents the opportunity to maintain the same type of service they currently receive just at a more beneficial rate. I know that trash service is like an extended member of the family and once you’ve found one you like you never let them go but we really see significant cost and service benefits in moving from a trash haul free-for-all to managed service, otherwise we wouldn’t even be asking to consider this change.
By moving forward with an exclusive franchise agreement for each of the 4 quadrants of the city, we fully expect to see meaningful savings for trash customers in Kent through improved routing. Fewer trucks on our streets mean less wear and tear on streets and curbs, better safety, less noise and truck traffic in neighborhoods which also means less potential for property damage or accidents, and even less emissions that we breathe in at our homes which in today’s vernacular means a smaller carbon footprint for Kent.
Some folks have expressed concerns over losing their right to choose their own trash hauler. I think freedom of choice is a great thing but the reality is there are costs to be paid for freedom of choice and we decided long ago that for some areas, like Police and Fire, we’re willing to concede our right to choose to ensure a safer, better community. Do we all want to hire our own police security, or handle the fire at our own house, probably not.
It appears that in general, most people agree to keep these a “public” service, to pool our funds and have the best equipment and people we can afford for these services rather than have each person hire there own fireman and policeman — and maybe even trashman.
Here’s a short example of how the transition process worked recently in another Ohio city:
City of Marietta chooses new waste management provider