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Johnson County Refuse program

New automated curbside service to begin July 1

SOLON– The City of Solon has officially adopted a new, automated curbside garbage and recycling system proposed by Johnson County Refuse of North Liberty.
Residents will receive two carts, one for recycling and one for garbage, to be used beginning in July. The new carts will eliminate the need for Johnson County Refuse employees to lift bags, limiting workplace injuries for the company.
But the changes will result in a price increase for households which generate the least garbage, and during a May 2 city council meeting Mayor Steve Stange indicated residents have been sharing concerns with city staff since the proposal was discussed in early March.
“We’ve had a lot of conservations at the front desk over the last month,” Stange said. He thanked City Clerk Susie Siddell and City Administrator Cami Rasmussen for “taking the brunt of the people that are unhappy about it. We knew there’s be some people that’d be unhappy about it.”
Under the new automated system, each residence will be provided a 95-gallon cart for recyclables, replacing the tubs which are currently in use.
The city has asked residents to select between two options for garbage collection: A 65-gallon cart emptied weekly at a cost of $18.50 per month, or a 35-gallon cart to be picked up every other week for $12.50. Both charges include the current $6.35 recycling fee which appears on municipal water bills.
Rasmussen said the city mailed over 900 cards out to residents asking for a cart selection by May 7. As of Friday, May 4, a little over 500 cars had been returned, with 299 households requesting 65-gallon weekly cart and 214 cards choosing the 35-gallon bi-weekly cart.
The default is the 65-gallon cart for those households that don’t respond, Rasmussen said.
Tags will only be used for excess garbage at a charge of $3 per bag. Residents will be asked to place the extra bags on top of the cart.


new automated system

• 95-gallon cart for recyclables,
replacing the tubs which are
currently in use; AND
• A 65-gallon cart emptied weekly
at a cost of $18.50 per month; or
a 35-gallon cart to be picked up
every other week for $12.50.


No changes are planned for yard waste, Rasmussen noted. Stickers will continue to be available at Solon City Hall for $1.25 or residents can drop yard waste behind the public works building at no cost.
At the May 2 meeting, Stange addressed the principal issue raised by Solon citizens– why the 35-gallon cart could be picked up only every other week.
“To pick ‘em up every week was a dollar difference between that and the 65-gallon can,” he said. “So it has to come down to the labor rate, and we didn’t see the financial benefit.”
Stange added the committee reviewing the proposal also had reservations about the amount of data entry which would be required.
Johnson County Refuse owner Steve Smith acknowledged the pricing will result in a lower cost for people used to using four garbage stickers a week, but higher for those who are only putting garbage out once a month.
One of the problems with the tag system, Smith explained, is how inconsistent the revenue can be from different households in the same community.
“The truck has gotta go down the road whether there’s stickers out there or not,” he noted. “We still have the same expense to run that truck down to be there for the week that they decide to put garbage out.”
He sought a 10-year commitment from the city to assist with the capital outlay being made by the company, and indicated the new pricing would help cover some of the costs for the new carts.
Johnson County Refuse, headquartered in North Liberty, has been the city’s garbage and recycling hauler since 2003.
Stange opened the floor to council comments but the only member with questions was Lynn Morris, who asked about the fate of unused tags.
Rasmussen indicated the city would refund residents for any tags not used by July 1, although Stange suggested setting a deadline.
“I think we need to set that so we don’t have somebody coming in two years down the road.”
“I would be comfortable with whatever you guys are comfortable with,” Smith added.
Smith said Johnson County Refuse would pick up any unwanted recycling tubs or personal garbage cans sometime in July.
“It’ll be a different day than garbage day,” he said. Residents will be notified in advance, he added. “People can keep them if they want.”
Morris also asked if residents could construct enclosures to keep the new carts outside because of their size.
“Do they need to get a permit?” she asked.
According to Rasmussen, a permit would not be needed for a fence 6 feet tall or shorter, or an area of 144 square feet or less. In some subdivisions, Stange cautioned, covenants may prohibit such outside storage.
Council members had no other questions and there were no comments from the public. A motion to approve the contract with Johnson County Refuse was approved unanimously.
The first bill for the new combined service rate will go out in July and be due in August. For more information, contact City Hall at 624-3755.