Stories indexed with the term ‘single-stream’

Ann Arbor: Keep Weekly Trash Pickup

A proposed update to the solid waste plan of the city of Ann Arbor has been adopted by the city council in action taken at its Oct. 7, 2013 meeting – but not without amendment. Some objection to the plan was centered on the mention of the possibility of working toward a curbside trash pickup schedule that’s less frequent than once weekly and exploring pay-as-you-throw options.

So the council passed two amendments eliminating those aspects of the plan during deliberations at it Oct. 7 meeting.

The updated plan presented to the council included a number of initiatives, including goals for increased recycling/diversion rates – generally and for apartment buildings in particular. Also included in the draft plan is a proposal to relocate … [Full Story]

Council Weighs Art of Street Repair, Recycling

Ann Arbor city council meeting (Aug. 4, 2011): In the early part of the meeting, mayor John Hieftje effectively headed off a debate that might have otherwise unfolded among councilmembers on the relationship between the taxes collected for street and sidewalk repair and the city’s public art program. The mayor announced that he’d be nominating Tony Derezinski (Ward 2) to serve on the public art commission as a replacement for recently resigned commissioner Jeff Meyers. And Hieftje went on to say that in September he wanted to take a longer look at the city’s public art program.


From left: Stephen Kunselman and Mike Anglin congratulate each other on winning their respective Democratic primary elections two days earlier. Kunselman represents Ward 3. Anglin represents Ward 5. Both are incumbents. (Photo by the writer.)

That assurance was enough for now to hold off a council discussion of an explicit restriction on the street/sidewalk repair tax – a restriction that would prevent those tax monies from being used to pay for public art under the city’s Percent for Art program. At the meeting, the council approved ballot language for Nov. 8 that will ask voters to renew the street repair tax (at a rate of 2.0 mills) as well as to approve an additional tax to repair sidewalks (at a rate of 0.125 mills).

But no discussion took place on a possible restriction on those monies in connection with public art. It’s technically possible for the council to revisit the issue at its next meeting, on Aug. 15, which falls one day before the ballot language must be filed, according to the state election statute.

If the discussion of appropriate funding mechanisms for public art is pushed to September, it will join another topic the council voted at its meeting to postpone for two months – termination of the city’s contract with RecycleBank. That company administers a coupon-based incentive program in connection with the city’s new single-stream recycling program.

It was a year ago, in July 2010, that the new single-stream system replaced Ann Arbor’s decades-old dual-stream system. Councilmembers questioned the evidence that RecycleBank’s program had any significant impact on residents’ recycling behavior. The measure needed an eight-vote super majority of the 11 councilmembers, and based on deliberations, there were only seven clear votes to terminate. But instead of voting, the council postponed the issue.

The council did take action on a related recycling issue, voting to increase its annual contract with Recycle Ann Arbor, which empties the curbside recycling carts set out by residents. The increase was set for $107,000 a year and was meant to offset diminished revenue that Recycle Ann Arbor was getting under the contract, due to a smaller number of carts being deployed in the city.

In other business, the council gave final approval to changes in employee benefits. It also approved terms of a contract with Steve Powers, who on Sept. 15 will become the city’s newest employee as city administrator. Highlights include a $145,000 base salary and participation in a 401(a) plan instead of the city’s pension system.

Allen Creek was the geographic focus of two items on the agenda. The council approved another extension to the purchase option agreement with Village Green – for the City Apartments project to be located at First and Washington. The council also approved a general expression of support for the idea of constructing a greenway in the Allen Creek corridor.

The council also approved revisions to the proposed Burton Commons housing development, located on Burton Road near Packard and US-23. And receiving initial approval were changes to the boundaries for the city’s five wards.

Highlights of council communications came from Sandi Smith (Ward 1) and Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3). Smith alerted her colleagues to possible legislation she’d be bringing forward in the future that would restrict video surveillance. Kunselman announced that he would eventually be bringing forward possible revisions to the city’s ordinance that governs how its downtown development authority operates.

A highlight from public commentary was praise heaped upon the Ann Arbor police chief, Barnett Jones, by a representative of the Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights (WICIR). [Full Story]

Recycle Ann Arbor: Yes | RecycleBank: Maybe

At its Aug. 4, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council voted unanimously to increase by $107,000 the city’s contract with Recycle Ann Arbor (RAA) for curbside collection of the city’s single-stream recycling carts.

Later in the same meeting, the council considered but ultimately postponed a decision – until its second meeting in September – to fund the increased RAA contract by terminating its contract with RecycleBank for administering a coupon-based incentive program. That would have ended a 10-year deal approved last year by the council. The termination of the contract would include a budget appropriation to fund the RAA contract change, and would require 8 votes. Based on deliberations on Aug. 4, it’s uncertain if those 8 votes will be achieved.

The Recycle Ann Arbor contract change reflected the council’s choice to revisit a decision it had made at its July 5 meeting to reject that contract change. The decision to reconsider the July 5 vote came at the council’s July 18 meeting, which the council then postponed until Aug. 4.

The change reflects a bump from $3.25 to $3.55 per month per cart, for a total of $107,042 annually. The city council had voted on March 15, 2010 to adopt the single-stream recycling program, which began a little over one year ago, on July 5, 2010.

At that time, the city approved a contract with RAA that called for a payment of $3.25 per month for each cart that is deployed in the the city (whether it is set out for collection or not), plus a per-ton payment of between $18.74 and $30.00. The amount of revenue RAA has received through these two kinds of payment was less than projected for the last fiscal year. Specifically, the tonnage payments received by RAA for fiscal year 2011 (which ended June 30) for recyclable material were projected to be $406,332 but in fact only generated $187,560 for RAA – only 46% of what was expected. The shortfall was $218,772.

Also, the city expected to distribute 32,779 carts, but it turned out that only 29,734 carts were deployed, or 9.3% fewer than planned. A staff memo accompanying the July 18 resolution explained the reduced number this way: “… many of the smaller multi-family residential units that were previously using the 11-gallon recycling ‘totes’ are able to share recycle carts, resulting in a smaller number of deployed carts.” In terms of revenue, the reduced number of carts meant that RAA received only $1,159,626 compared to the projected $1,278,381 – for a shortfall of $118,755.

Summing the shortfalls in the two kinds of revenue ($118,755 + $218,772), RAA received $337,527 less than it expected for FY 2011. The increase in the monthly per-cart service fee – approved by the council for all five years of the five-year contract – works out to nearly cover the annual shortfall that was due only to the decreased number of carts: $107,042 versus $118,755.

The overly-optimistic projections were made by the city’s recycling consultant Resource Recycling Systems and RecycleBank, a company that administers a coupon-based incentive program to encourage residents to recycle. When the council approved the single-stream recycling contract with RAA last year, it also struck a 10-year deal with RecycleBank to administer a coupon-based incentive program to help boost recycling rates in conjunction with the single-stream rollout.

Also at the Aug. 4 meeting, the council considered giving direction to city staff to give RecycleBank 30-days notice of cancellation of its contract with the city. The resolution indicates termination would give savings to the city of $149,167 per year on that contract. RecycleBank would be entitled to $120,000 for the depreciated cost of equipment in recycling trucks as part of this program. RecycleBank also has claimed that it would be entitled to an additional amount up to $80,000 due to the timing of the cancellation. The council’s resolution, which it will take up at its second meeting in September, stipulates that city staff are to proceed with termination of the contract only if the cost of termination is $200,000 or less.

Of 624 respondents to an online survey conducted by Sabra Briere (Ward 1), only 11% said they opposed canceling the coupon contract and allocating the funds to Recycle Ann Arbor’s contract instead. Only 13% said that they’d both signed up for the coupon program and felt like it had increased the amount that they recycle. Of those residents responding to the survey, 99% indicated that they recycle.

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link] [Full Story]

Powers Gets Admin Nod; Recycling Revisited

Ann Arbor city council meeting (July 18, 2011): Councilmembers completed their first two significant tasks in under an hour on Monday evening.

I will vote buttons

The speaker’s podium at Monday’s meeting was graced with a basket full of buttons stating: I WILL VOTE. The city’s primary election is Tuesday, Aug. 2. The buttons are part of a city clerk’s office effort to increase participation in the elections. (Photos by the writer.)

During the time reserved for council communications at the start of the meeting, councilmembers decided to reconsider a 5-4 vote they’d taken on July 5. That vote, which failed to achieve a six-vote majority, had the outcome of rejecting an increase to Recycle Ann Arbor‘s contract to provide curbside recycling service in the city. After agreeing to reconsider the vote, the issue was again fresh before the council.

Councilmembers then unanimously agreed to postpone action on the contract until the next meeting, which falls on Aug. 4 – after the Aug. 2 city council primary elections. Based on remarks from Carsten Hohnke (Ward 5), it appears likely that the council may discontinue a contract with RecycleBank (an incentive program provider) in order to free up funds to supplement Recycle Ann Arbor’s contract.

Next up was a resolution that had been moved forward on the council’s agenda to a spot before all the consent agenda items. After brief deliberations, the council agreed to offer its open city administrator position to Steve Powers. The decision for Powers over another finalist, Ellie Oppenheim, came after two rounds of interviews on July 12-13, including a televised session on the morning of July 13. [Previous Chronicle coverage: "Search Concluding for Ann Arbor City Admin"]

Although Monday’s meeting was brief, the council ticked through a raft of significant votes after those two main business items. The expected start of the East Stadium bridges reconstruction project was reflected in the approval of stormwater control projects near the construction site, and in the approval of a deal to use land as a construction staging area. For a property just down State Street from the bridge, but unrelated to the project, the council approved a sanitary sewer hookup at the location where Biercamp Artisan Sausage and Jerky has opened for business.

Related to the city’s emphasis on the natural environment, the council approved a contract that will allow the planting of 1,200 trees in city rights of way, and added 110 acres of land to the city’s greenbelt program.

The city renewed its membership in the Urban County, a consortium of local governmental entities that allows the city to receive federal funds through a variety of federal U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs. The council also appointed Tony Derezinski (Ward 2) as a hearing officer for liquor license revocation recommendations. Initial approval was also given to two ordinance changes related to employee benefits – one of them for union employee retirement benefits, the other for non-union retiree health benefits.

Only three people addressed the council during public commentary at the start of the meeting. Two of them were the owners of businesses – Earthen Jar and Jerusalem Garden – adjacent to the construction site of the underground parking structure along Fifth Avenue. They reiterated the same theme they’d conveyed to the board of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority (DDA) at that body’s July 6 meeting – their business is suffering due to the construction.

And related to the DDA, Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) continued a pattern of using his council communications slot to update his colleagues on his campaign to press the DDA to provide more information about its budget. It’s a highlight of his re-election campaign in Ward 3, where he’s contesting a three-way primary on Aug. 2. [Full Story]