Rollouts shot down by town council

by nathan oster

The likelihood of the town ever switching to rollouts for the collection of garbage was greatly diminished Thursday when the Greybull Town Council directed Town Foreman Dalen Davis to pursue the purchase of a garbage truck with a left-hand-only drive setup.

Councilor Bob Graham, who cast the lone dissenting vote, had been pushing for a truck with a dual-drive setup (with steering wheels on both the left and right sides of the cab) and the hardware needed to one day install a grabber for the rollout dumpsters.

According to Davis, the town current has three garbage trucks, including an “alley truck.” The plan, he said, is to replace the blue truck that was purchased in 2004 and to keep the white truck, which is slightly older, as a backup truck.

Davis asked the council for direction on the type of truck to purchase. In presenting the bids, he said the town could get a dual-drive truck with the hardware needed for grabbers for around $185,000.  A truck set up exactly the same way as the one it will be replacing — in other words, one without the right-hand drive option — would cost about $8,000 less, or $177,000.

Mayor Frank Houk said he had asked Davis to get specs for both options, saying a dual-drive truck would give the town flexibility down the road to switch to rollouts, if it was ever deemed necessary.

“I thought rollouts were a dead issue,” said Councilman Bob McGuire.

Graham agreed that rollouts were a dead issue “for this council,” but quickly added, “For future council’s, I can guarantee that it’s going to come up again” as a way to combat rising landfill costs.

“I don’t disagree that the price (at the landfill) is going to go up, but I am not sure rollouts are the way to solve that price issue,” countered McGuire. “We’d be paying for something now that we may not use until 10 years from now.”

Graham said towns that have already switched to rollouts, like Lovell and Worland, went through similar procedures.  They reason they switched, he said, was because of rising landfill fees, not to mention problems with illegal dumping in Dumpsters.

Graham added that with technology improvements people could ultimately be billed just for the amount of garbage in their rollouts at the time of collection. With the current system, he argued, it isn’t right “for a little old lady who takes a little bag to the Dumpster to be paying the same as I do or the same as a family of six. To me, I’d rather pay for whatever I put in the rollout.

“The landfill is going to raise its rate by a half cent, and the more we recycle, the more we take away, the higher their price is going to go because they have no other way to fund it until they finally figure out that it’s going to require some sort of mill levy.”

Councilors Jan Johnson and Kay Fleek admitted that they were initially intrigued by the rollout concept when it was first presented to them. But both said they heard vocal opposition to the plan from their constituents.

McGuire said he, too, heard “from a lot of people” who absolutely do not want rollouts.

“We all agree the price is going to go up … and whether they charge me $5 because I’m old or Kay $90 because she’s young, it’s still going to come out the same way.  The issue isn’t whether we have rollouts or dumpsters. The issue is still going to be financing on the bottom end, between the landfill and the town.”

The question, McGuire said, is whether the town can afford the $8,000 to $10,000 needed to equip the truck to collect rollouts.  For him, the answer is no.  McGuire said the timing isn’t right and that there are other more pressing needs, like costs associated with hiring an administrator, as well as for streets to be chip sealed and for more improvements at the Herb Asp Community Center.  Any of them are “now” issues, rather than “potential” ones. McGuire’s said his preference was for the $8,000 to $10,000 in savings to go to chip sealing.

When asked to weigh in on the matter, Davis said his preference would be for a left-hand drive truck, rather than the dual-drive truck.  When the vote was ultimately taken, it was 3-1, with Graham in the dissent.