WINSLOW — After two years of work, the committee charged with researching alternatives for the town’s curbside trash collection has narrowed down the choices to three possible options, which will be discussed at a Town Council workshop Tuesday evening.

The need for a new trash compacter truck prompted the town to explore alternatives to their current system, which involves an employee driving the truck and two other trash collectors riding on the back, according to Town Manager Mike Heavener, who also sits on the Municipal Solid Waste Advisory Committee.

The three options that the committee is recommending and will be discussed Tuesday include sticking to the current system, converting to mechanized curbside collection and contracting out for the service.

The cost to purchase a new 32-yard, rear-loading truck similar to what the town currently uses would be $240,000. This option would be the lowest capital cost, or initial one-time payment, but it is not the lowest cost overall or annually.

With this option, Heavener said, residents wouldn’t see any change to their trash pick up; however, they are rethinking this system because, due to the nature of the process, the workers who ride on the back are prone to injury.

“Over the course of the last year we’ve had accidents,” said Town Councilor Ray Caron, who also sits on the committee, during an interview with Heavener Friday.

Caron said Winslow is one of the last municipalities to not only have trash collectors riding on the back of the truck, but also lifting residents’ often-heavy trash bins.

“We feel we need to get away from that,” Caron said.

The second option for the town is to convert to a mechanized curbside collection using one employee. The driver of the 28-yard, front-loading truck would operate a mechanical arm that would pick up and empty the trash bin positioned along the curb by using a sort of joy stick. This option would require the town to also purchase 64-gallon trash bins for all eligible residents. Together, the truck and 3,600 bins would cost $461,000.

Heavener said this option would be the highest initial cost, but it would end up being the lowest cost overall and lowest annual cost.

Additionally, eliminating the two trash collectors on the back of the truck allows the town to transfer those employees to work on sewer lines. Heavener said the town has fallen behind on sewer maintenance and is now beginning to experience issues. If the town chooses to stick with its current system, the public works department would have to hire new employees to address the sewer problems.

There are a few concerns the committee has about converting to the mechanized truck, Heavener said. If the truck is being repaired, there would be no viable solution to collect trash as the cans specifically needed for the truck are quite big for one person to lift and empty.

Trash also may not be emptied from the cans if they are not properly positioned by a resident, Heavener said. Some residents have raised concern about having no place to store such a large bin in their home or garage.

Last, Heavener said that because of the way the truck works, picking up trash at trailer parks and condominium units would be difficult.

“That would be a drawback for the automated,” Heavener said.

The final option for curbside collection would be to hire a contractor to provide the service. This option would have the same benefit as purchasing a truck with a mechanical arm in that no Winslow employees would be at risk of injury and it would allow displaced employees to work on the sewer system. There would also be no up-front cost, but it would be the highest cost for the town annually at $332,800 that will increase by 3 percent each year. It also would require a long-term contract.

The town will be receiving approximately $600,000 after its contract with Penobscot Energy Recovery Company, or PERC, expires in April, which will help pay for whichever curbside collection option the town chooses.

With each option, the committee has budgeted $52,000 to add recycling containers at the public works garage. During the November 2017 election, Caron said, the committee conducted a survey and the results showed that residents wouldn’t mind paying a little bit more for recycling, so the committee is looking for ways to increase opportunities for single-stream recycling in town.

“Anything we can remove from municipal waste will reduce cost and it also reduces what fills up in landfills,” Caron said, adding that the town will likely form a separate recycling committee in the future.

The committee also plans to recommend to the council that they should extend a food composting program that was conducted at the elementary school to the junior high and high school.

The workshop to discuss the options will begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Town Office.

Emily Higginbotham — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @EmilyHigg

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