Johnstown residents can expect to soon pay smaller garbage bills.
Beginning on Jan. 1, the annual cost for hauling is expected to drop from $166 per customer to approximately $136, according to Carlos Gunby, the city’s finance director. The savings will be realized as part of a new agreement City Council unanimously approved with Advanced Disposal during a meeting on Wednesday night.
The contract is for $16 million over 10 years.
“Fortunately, right now, we’re in a very competitive sanitation and refuse market,” said Gunby. “Thankfully for us, we were able to take advantage of that.”
Although bills will increase throughout the duration, the annual cost is not expected to reach $166 again until the final year unless some factors, such as anticipated fuel expenses, change significantly.
“This should be a good deal for the consumers,” said Deputy Mayor Frank Janakovic.
City Hall still will be able to enforce its codes and provide assistance to customers.
Advanced Disposal will collect payments directly by sending quarterly bills to property owners. The company also will be responsible for dealing with delinquent accounts.
“It takes a lot of the pressure off of the city as far as collecting and all that,” said City Councilwoman Marie Mock. “They’re the ones putting out all the liability as far as the delinquents; not us.”
Changes will come to the way customers can dispose of large items. In previous years, the city usually held one spring cleanup day in each neighborhood.
“We still have to work out the details with Advanced, but we’re going to more of a system where, on a monthly basis – and we’ll select a day per month per area – where you’ll be able to put out one large item,” said Gunby. “We’ll also communicate what else is eligible to be put out and what is not eligible to be put out by law. We’ll get into more detail with that. The larger items will be looking at a one-day-per-month (collection). That way, we’re not just flooding the city with junk all in one week. We’ll be scattering it out. It will be better for the hauler. It will be better for the city. And, hopefully, it will be better for the residents as well.”
Johnstown entered into the agreement with Advanced after the two organizations had a dispute over contract language, spring cleanup fees and other issues earlier this year.
“We have instituted, in the new contract, stiff performance penalties that come with monetary as well as other disciplinary actions that can and will be taken against the hauler for poor performance,” Gunby said.
Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/Dave_Sutor.