Ballot Question: Residential Waste Collection

After extensive community engagement efforts and staff research, Lakewood City Council decided to put a question on the November ballot to ask voters whether or not the city should transition to a contracted system for residential waste collection services.

This kind of system would involve the city contracting directly with waste hauling companies to provide waste collection services to residents. 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.

Please use this resource center to participate in this discussion:



After extensive community engagement efforts and staff research, Lakewood City Council decided to put a question on the November ballot to ask voters whether or not the city should transition to a contracted system for residential waste collection services.

This kind of system would involve the city contracting directly with waste hauling companies to provide waste collection services to residents. 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.

Please use this resource center to participate in this discussion:



Post your question here and city staff will respond within two business days. 

Please note that your questions will be visible to the public. If you'd like to send a private message, email us at sustainability@lakewood.org.

Q&A

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  • 2 questions 1- Why has this issue gotten this far we have private garbage plan that has been working well? The only reason I can see is another out of state entity has clutched onto the greedy has of this administration. 2- The garbage bills of contract garbage I have from another city are at more than double, where are you getting your information?

    JerryB asked 12 days ago

    1. The City Council decision to place this topic on the ballot was made after a multi-year community engagement process, in which community concerns related to the existing waste system were identified. You can find these identified issues on page 14 of the 2019 Lakewood Residential Trash Collection Report.

    2. Pricing information was obtained by issuing a Request for Proposals, in which hauling companies were asked to submit information and pricing for providing service to Lakewood's residential properties. The low and high prices received from this process are referenced on this website.


  • Are there any goals to reduce the clutter of dumpsters on curbs and roads?

    Bees and peas asked 22 days ago

    This would only apply to residential properties with seven or fewer units, so it would not affect many of the properties that currently have dumpsters. For applicable properties, the contracted waste hauling company would be required to either replace the dumpsters with lidded carts, unless space does not allow, in which case they would be required to provide dumpster service in a clean and orderly way.

  • What sort of jobs impact is this expected to have on employees of the numerous waste and recycling services currently operating in Lakewood? While we may still be able to individually contract with them (IIRC), I imagine the expense and/or increased complexity of billing would lead many residents to simply opt to only utilize the city contracted service, rendering it unprofitable for other services to continue operations here. Thank you.

    JB asked 22 days ago

    While some companies would lose their share of the Lakewood residential market, we do not anticipate this to significantly decrease the number of jobs in these companies because all current residential waste haulers in Lakewood also service other areas of the metro and most of these haulers offer commercial services as well, which would not be affected by this system. Statewide, we anticipate an increase in recycling and composting to increase overall jobs. You can find more detail on pages 31- 32 of the 2019 Lakewood Residential Trash Collection Report

  • I need clarification on your Reply to my (poorly worded?) Q from yesterday. I’m confused. My reference to TABOR exemption and transparency of fees is re: the CITY’S fees, not the Hauler’s. I am not concerned about the Hauler’s fees itemized on my bill. “....the City will collect program fees and may establish a fund to manage revenue and expenditures;...” Is this fee in ADDITION to the Sample Pricing you provided? Where will we get transparency about those collections/expenditures seeing as any overage is to be kept in this program and not earmarked for other budget purposes? Seems like when there is a new ‘fee’ we just insert language to exempt it forever - the City already had a $12k overage last year, I believe.

    G.C. asked 26 days ago

    Sorry for the confusion. The “program fees” referenced in the ballot language refer to any fees collected by the city in support of the program. Whether the fees are collected by the haulers or the city would be determined during contract negotiations. The sample pricing provided assumes that these fees are collected by the hauler, however, this could change if the city determines there is potential to reduce costs. For example, there are programs available to municipal governments that subsidize the cost of recycling bins, which could help reduce program costs. 

    Any fees collected as part of this program would be used exclusively for the purposes of funding residential waste collection. Accounting would be fully transparent and made available to the public by including details on all fees on bills and online, as well as through the annual budget process. Resident can also search city spending on the Lakewood Ledger website.

  • Is this correct: The City of Lakewood will collect all of the Hauler’s fees (monthly, or Quarterly?). From those Fees, the Hauler(s) will be paid their Contracted Price and also Lakewood’s Administrative Costs (for billing and collection and...?) will be paid to the City. Any excess will remain in the City’s funds solely for support of such Residential Waste System. Why are the Fees exempt from TABOR? (Article X, Section 20 of the Colorado Constitution.) Is the Residents’ only remedy for ‘transparency of fees’ really through the City’s budgeting process? (2019 Budget = 546 pages; 2018 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report = 176 pages.)

    G.C. asked 27 days ago

    It has not been decided if the city or the hauler will be responsible for billing residents. Either way the excess funds would remain with the city in order to support the ongoing program costs. The funds are exempt from TABOR because without the exemption the fees might have to be refunded based on how TABOR works. A TABOR refund would remove the funds available to pay for waste collection. Transparency of fees will be provided in the hauling company’s contract and on the resident’s bill, so that all fees are clearly identified.


  • From reading the comments below I get the sense that contracting companies would receive payment for services they don't need to provide just because "everyone has to buy-in to get the benefits of bulk pricing". I know of several homes in the area, mine included, which has achieved "zero waste" including yard waste. (I take my recycling to the recycling center.) This is the goal of our environmentally conscious world. That means more and more households will not be subscribing to waste pick-up. The City of Lakewood's plan sounds like a way to bolster/mandate subscriptions to waste management companies. Have you considered this as a conflict in City goals? I would also like to see some specific pricing models that show there is any benefit. Since I will be paying for my neighbor's trash pick up I'd like to know how much that will be. Thank you for your time.

    ConservationGrannie asked 29 days ago

    We recognize that there are several zero waste homes in the Lakewood community; however industry research and findings from a Lakewood-specific survey indicate that the large majority of Lakewood households do generate significant amounts of waste that could be diverted from the landfill. We estimate that the program would result in nearly 38 million pounds of waste diverted from the landfills each year through recycling, composting, and incentivizing households to generate less waste through a volume-based pricing structure for trash. We have put together a price comparison chart to demonstrate the difference between what Lakewood households currently pay compared to the proposed pricing received through the RFP process.

  • We only need trash service about 3 months out of the year. It is a part time home. Will we have to pay 12 months of service? Will there be an option with the trash company to suspend our service?

    dovepub asked 29 days ago

    The terms for suspension of service were not included in the proposed contract language included in the RFP. However, seasonal stops are common in the industry, so this could be worked out during the contract negotiations. We appreciate you bringing this to our attention and will be sure to address this directly during the contract negotiations should this pass. 

  • Will the city of Lakewood ever (on proposal passage and implementation and beyond) be able to redirect any of the money collected for trash service to other purposes such as police, fire, homeless initiatives, road maintenance, etc? If the answer is no (money cannot be redirected), what safeguards will prevent redirection and how can constituents monitor and verify that redirection is not occurring and how can constituents remedy (stop) any redirection?

    TomZ asked 30 days ago

    Any fees collected from a contracted residential waste system would be solely used to support the residential waste system. The collection, budgeting, and distribution of these funds would be transparent to residents through the city’s budgeting process, in alignment with the Colorado Open Records Act, which is reviewed and approved by City Council every year.

  • Would these services be available to condominiums and apartments, as well as SFHs?

    staceyp asked about 1 month ago

    Based on the proposed contract language included in the RFP, services would only be offered to condominiums and apartments with seven or fewer units. Multifamily residential properties with eight or more units would still need to contract separately for waste collection services.

  • Would recycling be mandated under this plan?

    TLewis asked 30 days ago

    Recycling pickup service would be included automatically for all residential properties with seven or fewer units. There would be no mandate requiring households to put recyclable materials in the recycling bin.

  • What if I already have a "zero waste" household and don't want to pay for a service I am not going to use?

    cgulbran asked 30 days ago

    In order to receive the best pricing citywide, all eligible households would have to pay into the system to guarantee a certain number of customers for the contracted hauler. For zero waste households, this could mean selecting the smallest size trash bin at the lowest rate, while receiving recycling and yard waste pickup.