Contracted System Overview

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What is a contracted system?

The City of Lakewood would contract with waste hauling companies through a competitive bidding process to provide curbside trash and recycling collection services for residential properties with seven or fewer units. Private companies would still pick up the trash and provide curbside recycling and other services based on the requirements of a city contract. The contract essentially provides the city the option to obtain waste collection services at “bulk rate” prices for residents. This contracted system is currently used by more than 10 other cities along the Front Range.

Why is Lakewood considering this ballot question?

The city is considering this system as a way to address concerns residents have raised for several years about the waste collection system in the city. These concerns have been raised through public participation in the city’s Comprehensive and Sustainability plans and through extensive public outreach. The concerns included the following items:

  • Multiple trash trucks on residential streets leading to noise, pollution and other neighborhood impacts
  • Prices of services
  • Lack of recycling and compost services

What are some of the drawbacks of the contracted system?

Residents expressed concerns related to changes in the waste collection system including the following items:

  • Loss of the ability to choose their own waste hauling company
  • Role of government and the impact of any policies on market dynamics
  • The administrative costs and burdens on the city organization

Does the city have goals about waste and recycling collection?

The city’s Comprehensive and Sustainability plans include the following goals that would be addressed by a contracted system:

  • Clean and safe neighborhoods (Comp. Plan pgs. 4-14)
  • Air quality and greenhouse gas emissions (Comp. Plan pgs. 7-8; Sust. Plan pg. 26)
  • Waste diversion and recycling (Comp. Plan pgs. 7-16 and 7-17; Sust. Plan pgs. 74, 82, and 83)

What would the government’s role be in a contracted system?

The City of Lakewood would be responsible for overseeing the contract(s), providing education and outreach, and supplementing the waste hauling company’s customer service requirements. It has not been determined if the city would play any role in the billing process.

How would this new system address community concerns like trash truck traffic, environmental impacts, available services, and pricing?

It could reduce neighborhood trash truck traffic because a limited number of companies would serve residents under the contract. The city’s contract would also ensure transparent pricing for residents, set customer service requirements for the waste hauling companies, and increase the availability of recycling and composting services. Your City Council members would also have more oversight of these companies and how they operate, but the tradeoff is that you would be limited in your choice of trash companies.

How many companies would there be?

The city would be divided into three districts. Contracts could be awarded to one company per district, or one company could be awarded two or all three districts. The City Council would determine how many companies would receive a contract.

How long would the contract last?

The proposal would be for a three-year contract. After that, the City Council would decide whether to renew the contract for an additional two years or to open a new bidding process at that time. The contact would not run longer than five years, at which time it would be rebid.

Which households would be included in the contracted system?

All residential properties with seven or fewer units would be included in the contracted system, which would cover single-family homes, townhomes, duplexes, and small apartment complexes. Homeowners associations (HOAs) would be given the ability to opt out of the system if they are providing similar types of consolidated services.

Would I still be able to keep my choice of company?

According to Colorado state law, residents have the right to hire their own company for waste hauling services even if the city has a contracted system; however, those residential property owners would still be required to pay a fee into the contracted system.

Would my homeowners association be included in the contracted system?

Homeowners associations (HOAs) would be given the ability to opt out of the system if they are providing similar types of consolidated services.

Would my apartment be included in the contracted system?

Only complexes with seven or fewer units would be included in the contracted system. Multifamily residential properties with eight or more units would still need to have each of their own contracts for waste collection services.

How would this affect market competition?

The city would get new bids for collection services every three to five years, providing opportunities for waste hauling companies to compete for the contract through an open market competition. Companies that are awarded a contract would receive a guaranteed market share, but companies that are not awarded a contract would lose a significant number of their Lakewood customers.

Have other cities implemented this type of system?

More than 70% of U.S. cities use a similar trash and recycling system, either through a contracted system or through city-run trucks. On the Front Range, more than 10 cities have a contracted system for trash and recycling including Commerce City, Dacono, Edgewater, Frederick, Greenwood Village, Golden, Lafayette, Lone Tree, Louisville, Morrison, and Sheridan.

Explore answers to other frequently asked questions about a contracted system by topic:
- Pricing
- Waste Services
- Trash Truck Traffic Impacts
- Customer Service
- Recycling Impacts

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