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Broomfield voters likely to choose who gets to take out the trash

While the measure hasn’t passed through the formal process required to put it on the ballot, the conversation arose again at the City Council retreat over the weekend.
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Broomfield voters will likely get a say in the fate of trash collection this November. 

The City Council has given the initial thumbs up on adding a single trash hauler measure to the ballot, a conversation that followed the drafted zero waste plan presented in January. 

Broomfield’s Advisory Committee on Environmental Sustainability (ACES) described Broomfield’s current trash system as a “hodgepodge.” There are five companies that haul trash in Broomfield, each with seemingly inefficient routes snaking across the county. 

A single hauler system would increase efficiency, reduce road impacts and traffic and expand services, ACES member Taylor Reimann told the Council in January. The Council expressed support, with several councilmembers saying they’ve heard frustration from residents about multiple trucks driving through neighborhoods on a given day. 

“We created the ACES committee two years ago and charged them with helping us reach our sustainability goals,” Mayor Guyleen Castriotta said Monday. “It keeps popping up in our community surveys, people are worried about air quality … One of the solutions from the ACES community was to move to a single hauler. They came forward and we said, ‘Let’s do this. Let’s let citizens decide.’”

While the measure hasn’t passed through the formal process required to put it on the ballot, the conversation arose again at the City Council retreat over the weekend with councilmembers in agreement to move forward with the ballot measure. 

Castriotta said it takes six council votes to put something on the ballot. The measure will go through the standard process of two public readings and public comment. Those hearings haven’t yet been scheduled, though Castriotta noted the deadline to add something to the ballot is the end of July.

Councilmember James Marsh-Holschen both at the January presentation and at the retreat brought up the idea of Broomfield building its own municipal hauling service. He said there’s a significant benefit to it, listing a lower cost to residents, ensuring the staff are paid a fair wage, in-house customer service and the ability to further enact zero waste policies. But at the retreat, city staff said it would be expensive to build out the required infrastructure and the city would have to buy a plot of land to build the facility. 

Marsh-Holschen told the Leader on Tuesday that he doesn’t plan to continue pursuing a municipal trash service. 

“I understand we can get most of those things through a contract we bid for,” he said of his list of benefits. 

Marsh-Holschen noted the Council is leaving the decision up to voters, which is something the Council doesn’t have to do.

Arvada implemented a “pay-as-you-throw” single hauler trash system last year after the Arvada City Council voted 4–3 in favor. Some residents launched an effort to recall the four councilmembers who voted for it, the Denver Post reported, but the recall never made it to the ballot.

Castriotta said the measure wouldn’t increase the cost for Broomfield residents because the city and county would negotiate a contract with a hauler that would prevent them from “arbitrarily raising prices.”

City staff are researching the cost of haulers and looking through the licenses of haulers who operate in Broomfield, Castriotta said. Staff are also looking into the possibility of requiring haulers to also offer composting and recycling services for residents who choose to opt in. The formal measure will be presented at a meeting once city staff concludes their research.