11/18/2013 11:55:00 AM Publisher's Column
Dodge Center City Council finds itself once again faced with the difficult question of how to handle waste disposal within the city. Last time this issue came up in the city, some of the waste haulers used their lobbyists and public relations experts to create hostility among city residents toward city government and city officials with ludicrous claims that the city was attempting to interfere with free enterprise and violate individual freedom of choice. Some of us reacted as if the city were asking us to sacrifice our first born child. Hopefully this time around we won't allow ourselves to be so easily manipulated by outsiders.
When this issue last was addressed in Dodge Center, the city decided to allow four waste hauling licenses. The issue comes up again because one license holder, Waste Management, recently bought out another license holder, ARI. As result, there is an open license, and the council has to decide whether to allow another hauler to be licensed or to eliminate the fourth license.
Two potential candidates for the open license appeared at the last council meeting to let council members know they are interested. Had they not done so, it is probable the council would have eliminated the fourth license, as the city would prefer to have as few haulers as possible working within the city.
From the city's standpoint, the primary problem with multiple waste haulers is wear and tear on city streets. A typical garbage truck weighs 11 tons or more empty and 25 tons or more when filled. Empty, full or anywhere in between, that is a lot of stress on city streets that are designed and built primarily to handle automobile traffic. Every heavy vehicle causes the roadbed to flex under its load and, while the damage isn't immediately apparent, the effect is like worrying a piece of wire by repeatedly flexing it, the flexing weakens the structure of the road leading to cracks and potholes. These heavy vehicles cause increased street maintenance expenses and shorten the lifespan of city streets. Add Minnesota winters and the effect is even worse.
High street maintenance expenses and shortened street life-spans mean higher taxes for city taxpayers.
Until Waste Management bought ARI, there were four of these heavy trucks driving down every street in Dodge Center every Wednesday morning. If there were only one waste hauler in the city, there would be one-fourth as much traffic by these heavy vehicles and one-fourth as much damage. Even going down to three will result in some savings.
City officials in Dodge Center, or in any other of our neighboring communities, have no desire to limit free enterprise or anyone's freedom of choice, they only want to get the maximum benefit for city residents from the taxes residents pay.
Dodge Center's council is meeting the day this paper comes out to consider how to move forward on this issue. They will undoubtedly be asking for public comment. I hope that this time around we will all ignore those who attempt to stir up animosity between us and instead give serious rational thought to coming up with the best solution for our community.