Riverton council reconsidered and defeated the city’s new trash pick-up plan approved in May

(Riverton, Wyo.) – There was a lot of trash talking at Tuesday night’s city council meeting, mostly about trash and how it is collected in the city of Riverton.

A group of angry city residents showed up to voice their displeasure over the council’s approval of a new sanitation collection plan at its last meeting in May. At that time the council, on a unanimous vote, approved reducing trash collection to four days a week, Tuesday through Saturday, and requiring rollout trash containers that would be placed at the curb. For about 75 percent of city residents, who now use the rollout containers, the issue is not a big deal. But for those who have become accustomed to their four-yard alley dumpsters, and older residents who are worried about being able to physically get the containers to the street, especially in the winter, the thought of going to a rollout ignited some strong passionate opposition.

Ultimately the council voted to reconsider their May 27th decision and this time the five council members present and the mayor defeated it, unanimously.

The council then directed city staff to consider a number of other options, including, but not limited to, collecting trash four days a week with a 10 hour a day schedule for sanitation workers, having all trash collection take place in an alley way with rollouts where practical, investigate potential costs of privatization of garbage collection, and such.

Before the council got to that point, a number of citizens attending the meeting rose to oppose going to rollouts. Comments included:

• Betty Malicki: “The elderly are concerned about handling and rolling these out, especially in winter,” she said, reminding the council that Riverton “has become a community of predominately elderly people.” The former city council member also suggested the city look at privatizing the trash pickup.

• Judy Woolery: “I live in the older section of town which was built and designed for alleys,” she said. “You recently extended 16th to Webbwood for new development and the street is narrow. As it is people don’t have other places to park their vehicles.” Woolery also said that she has a hard enough time now getting her five-gallon recycling container to the curb. “Put it in the alley, not the front of the street. I can get a bag of garbage to the alley, but I cannot get a rollout to the street, especiall when the street is not maintained in the winter.”

• Dave Lehto: “I have the same concerns. I understand it’s a mandate that we have to change from dumpsters. Keep them in the alleys if at all possible.”

• Bob Woodward: “I echo the same comments, and I’ve talked to several you councilmembers. A lot of the dumpsters are shared by 2,3 or 4 families. If you take away the dumpster, that’s up to 8 rollouts you have to replace them with,” he said. “I understand you are trying to work the budget.”

• Donna Linnell: “I oppose the rollouts, they’re ugly and they don’t do anything to make the city look good, and Mr. Mayor you are always talking about making the town pretty,” she said. “A lot of people will have trouble with it. I wish you would reconsider. “

• Sherry J: “I am very opposed, we have a nice alley system, I don’t see putting rollouts on the street is the answer,” she said. “There are areas of town that don’t have alleys and need rollouts. And some people are lazy who won’t pull them back in and leave them on the street.”

• Ed Lightner: “I agree with everyone and what’s been said. I’m a former trucker and I know you’ll burn more fuel with all that stopping and going with the rollouts,” he said. “Give it some thought. I like my dumpster, we keep our alley clean, very clean in the winter when the streets don’t get cleaned. Will rollouts be picked up in the alleys?”

Addressing some of the concerns raised in the comments, City Administrator Steven Weaver said the change was due to an efficiency report done by the Solid Waste District, who reduced their bale station operation from seven days a week to five days beginning July 1st. He also mentioned that Lander has privatized trash collection, “but that’s all they do. Here we pick up recyclables and yard waste, It’s included in your bills. If we went private, we’d still have to collect those.” He also said the change was not due to budgetary concerns, but rather one of efficiency. He also said no employees would lose their job as some had claimed with the new schedule.

Weaver also noted that the city has two sizes of rollouts, 45 gallons and 90 gallons and suggested the smaller containers would be easier for people to manipulate.

For the time being, it’s back to the drawing board.

Acting Public Works Director Dawn Willhelm said the Solid Waste District said they would work with the city and allow Riverton until December to get something in place.

Photos by Ernie Over. Those pictured all spoke out against the new trash pickup plan.