On Monday, December 11, Milford City Council approved the purchase of an automated trash truck. Public Works Director, Mark Whitfield, explained to Council that, although the truck is more expensive to purchase than a traditional rear-loading truck, it will save in salary costs over the years.
“Over the past six months, we have looked what will work and what does not when it comes to trash trucks,” Whitfield said. “We found that automated trash trucks are safer, reducing injuries and protecting staff from the elements. There are some areas where automated trucks will not work in Milford, but in reviewing the streets in town we can use automated trucks to reach 85 percent of the customers in town.”
Whitfield explained that with standard cab trash trucks, even getting out of the truck 10 percent of the time can be a problem. Public Works was able to find one that was cab forward which has many more advantages than a standard cab. Councilwoman Lisa Peel confirmed that none of the employees will be laid off or dismissed due to the new truck and Mr. Whitfield confirmed that vacant positions will simply not be filled and that no one would be dismissed from the solid waste department.
The cost of the truck is $225,000 and a portion of the cost was included in this year’s annual budget. Additional funds to pay for the truck came from money saved when the City obtained a grant to install recycling trash cans throughout the City. This left just over $4,000 that needed to be added to the budget in order to purchase the automated truck. Council voted to transfer the difference in cost from reserves to purchase the new truck.
City Manager Eric Norenberg said that some residents may need information on placement of refuse cans so that the automated truck can work as it is designed. He also said that the City was working on providing residents with guidelines for recycling in order to make the process easier on employees. A booklet is available at City offices that explains what items can be included in recycling, items that should not be recycled and information on how recycling benefits the environment.
City Council also approved the expansion of Smartmeters throughout the City. Mr. Whitfield said that all data collectors are in place and that several test meters have been installed to be sure they are operating properly. The City will begin deploying the new meters strategically as the meters all talk to each other. They hope to begin deploying the new meters in late Feburary and they estimate finishing the project in April.
“One thing we need to discuss is an opt-out provision,” Whitfield said. “There is some false information online about radio frequencies from the meters. The fact is that the meters have an extremely low-level of radio activity, less than the meters installed now and about the same as a baby monitor. If we allow an opt-out provision, it could cost more which would mean any homeowner who chooses to opt-out could pay $25 to $30 per month more than those who install the meters. This is because we will need to go out and manually read those meters.” Councilman Owen Brooks said he did not want to charge homeowners $25 or $30 more.
Council voted not to allow an opt-out provision for Smartmeters. Mr. Norenberg said that there was extensive information on the safety of the meters on the City website and that anyone with concerns was free to contact City offices to learn more.
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