San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

November 19th, 2010
City moves towards recycling for apartments

111910recyclingLeft to right: San Marcos Director of Public Services Tom Taggart, Texas Disposal Systems (TDS) Director of Sales Rick Fraumann, City of San Marcos Public Services Coordinator Jo Secrest, Texas State University Associated Student Government Senator Maxfield Baker, Assistant Director of Public Services-Transportation Sabas Avila, and Jim Powers of TDS at a recent city council meeting. Photo by Sean Batura.

News Reporter

The San Marcos City Council is on its way to adding a new wrinkle to its recycling program, unanimously approving, on first reading, a recycling phase for apartment dwellers at this week’s meeting.

The ordinance would institute a recycling fee for apartment dwellers and new recycling and solid waste collection rates for residents of houses.

If councilmembers approve the ordinance on second reading next month, the new garbage and recycling collection rate for houses will be $17.55, and the recycling rate for apartments will be $5.53. Both rates include all fees and taxes indicated by the city.

The ordinance would allow all apartment dwellers in the city to place their recyclables in on-site community bins for pickup once per week. Single-family residents would continue to receive bi-weekly recycling and weekly garbage pickup services from Texas Disposal Services (TDS), which would also collect recyclables from apartments. The ordinance would not require apartment complexes to use TDS’ trash collection services.

Assistant Director of Public Services (Transportation Division) Sabas Avila said the institution of mandatory recycling fees for apartment tenants would result in a reduced garbage and recycling rate for residents of single-family units because TDS would have more customers.

“It’s like buying in bulk, if you will,” Avila said. “The more you buy at one time, the lower the rate. And so that’s essentially what we’re seeing. If you add more customers to TDS’ customer base, the overall cost for service in the city goes down.”

If councilmembers approve the garbage/recycling rate change ordinance on second reading, they will vote on a new contract with TDS. Green Guy Recycling would continue to process recyclables picked up by TDS.

The council held a public hearing on the matter before Tuesday’s vote. Only one citizen addressed the council at the hearing — Texas State Associated Student Government (ASG) Senator Maxfield Baker, who expressed support for the city ordinance. Baker informed councilmembers of a recent piece of ASG legislation in support of the ordinance. Baker authored the legislation, which was sponsored by nine senators, and which passed by a vote of 44-2-1. Two senators voted against the legislation and one abstained from the vote.

Councilmembers are expected to take a final vote on the ordinance on Dec. 7, when they will also vote on a final contract with TDS.

Due to consumer price index increases, the city is contractually obligated to a solid-waste and recycling rate increase of $0.68 per single-family unit. However, city staff negotiated rate decreases of $0.68 per single-family unit with TDS to offset the increase. Landfill and city facilities fees would be eliminated under the proposed rate changes.

Single-family residents currently pay the following rates $18.06 per month for garbage removal and recycling. City staff proposed that councilmembers choose from among three recycling and garbage collection fee scenarios.

Option 1 involves the special events fees and solid waste rate reductions being applied to single-family residences. Under the scenario, residents of single-family units would pay $17.80 per month for trash pick-up and recycling, while apartment residents would pay $5.32.

Under Option 2, the special events fee would be charged to both single-family and multi-family residents, and solid waste reductions would be applied to single-family residences. Single-family homes would pay $17.16 per month, while apartment dwellers would pay $5.73.

Option 3 normalizes recycling costs, increases, and reductions equally between single-family and multi-family residences. Under the scenario, single-family residents would pay $17.55 per month and apartment residents would pay $5.53.

“In Option 2, the economies of scale savings, in essence, are applied towards single-family rate, which reduces that rate,” Interim City Manager Laurie Moyer told councilmembers on Tuesday. “In Option 3, everything is — the economies of scale are spread evenly between both multi-family and single-family.”

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16 thoughts on “City moves towards recycling for apartments

  1. Awesome. I think this would make us the first city in Texas with this sort of program for apartments. I could be wrong, but I am pretty sure.

  2. I think a recycling program is great for apartment dwellers, but honestly I would like to see a more efficient/ WEEKLY recycling program for residential before we move on to apartments.

  3. So apartment owners do not have to use TDS but they have to pay for this program? Many families in San Marcos can not afford a home and live in apartments. With this new program they will have to pay for another program that may not be offered to them as some apartment owners may choose not to participate. Is the city mandating that apartment owners allow on-site community bins? This sounds like another method to raise taxes by using fees.

  4. SMHometown: Apartment owners do not have to use TDS for their garbage pickup. They do have to use TDS for their recycling pickup. Apartment complexes will have on-site community recycling bins for residents to use.

    All of this was states pretty clearly in the article.

  5. Matt: The article does not state what will happen if some apartment owners choose not to participate or if the city will mandate that apartment owners allow on-site community bins to be placed on their property. The article only states that the ordinance would allow all apartment dwellers in the city to place their recyclables in on-site community bins for pickup once per week. With parking already limited at many complexes will the bins take up parking spots? The options indicate how much each homeowner or apartment residents will pay. I wonder what is the total increase in dollars that are paid to TDS by everyone in San Marcos?

  6. Ted, San Marcos is not the first city in Texas with an apartment recycling program. I don’t know which city was first, but I do know that Austin has had an apartment recycling program for complexes in excess of 100 units for several years. I currently live in an apartment complex that is not served by the city garbage contractor. Tenants do not pay for garbage collection, only the 77 cents for recycling which I was told allows us to take items to Green Guy. While I endorse recycling for apartment complexes, I do not concur with the city’s charging apartment tenants for something we may not receive. Did the city meet with apartment managers to get their input on just how the program would operate and whether the current apartment garbage collector would allow recycling by TDS on the various apartment properties? Probably not.

  7. We pay for a lo9t of things we don’t use. I have no children, but pay school tax. Have never used 911, but it’s on my phone bill every monthI do recycle, but I have to schlep my stuff in myself.

  8. having recently moved into an apartment after being in a house for years, i was shocked to find out that there was no on-site recycling program of any kind! i hope this is another successful part of the city’s program and not just “another wrinkle”. kudos for TSU’s involvement even though not ALL apartment dwellers are college students, faculty or staff.

  9. San Marcos is 75-80% apartments, so it makes sense that the biggest chunk of our city’s waste that goes to landfills can be recycled to a great extent, if we offer recycling to apartments. If we want these very expensive landfills to last a long time, we need to prevent the things that CAN be recycled from being buried there. The hard thing is going to be educating apartment residents to avoid contaminating the recycling by putting the wrong things in the recycle container. That is still a problem for many to understand. I work on sorting the bin before we put it at the curb at the seniors center, and plastic bags are always in there, no matter how many times I remind everyone. I remove plastic bags, and any dirty items, broken glass, styrofoam or things that TDS asks us to avoid, which is written clearly on the lid. Many apartment residents have wanted recycling for years, so I’m hoping this will happen soon.

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  11. I wonder what is the total increase in dollars that are paid to TDS by everyone in San Marcos? Anyone know the answer?

  12. Something I have always wondered is: you’re not supposed to put broken glass in the bin, but doesn’t it all get broken anyway when it falls a few feet from the bin into the truck?

  13. My understanding is that there is some hand-sorting done, which is why they prefer to limit the broken glass. It may be that they are pulling non-recyclable items from the bin, before it is dumped into the truck, and don’t want to get cut. Or, maybe they want to limit the broken glass in the truck, because of hand-sorting later on. Or both.

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