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Broomfield will not put trash hauler, compost to voters in Nov.

Broomfield City Council will not bring a ballot measure this November to create a universal trash collection program and add recycling and composting.
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(stock photo)

Broomfield City Council will not bring a ballot measure this November to create a universal trash collection program and add recycling and composting to waste disposal services. 

City Council unanimously rejected the proposed ballot language on Tuesday night after Councilmembers, staff and community members raised concerns about unanswered questions, the short time frame to educate the public and whether the issue needs to be put to voters at all. 

“It turns out the answer to ‘Why don’t we have curbside compost in Broomfield?’ is much more complicated than any of us anticipated,” said Andrew Valdez, assistant director of strategic initiatives. 

The ballot language would have given City Council the green light to create a universal waste hauler system, through which the city and county would contract with one or more waste disposal companies to serve the entirety of Broomfield. 

It would also create a three-stream waste disposal system for Broomfield, adding recycling and compost along with trash removal. 

City Council isn’t required to bring the measure before voters and can pass an ordinance by itself, according to Broomfield staff, who also raised concerns that a ballot measure would fail because of the unpopularity of programs that include new fees or the perception of government overreach. 

Broomfield lags behind neighboring communities and the state when it comes to waste diversion rates, Valdez said — 12% in Broomfield compared to 57% in Boulder and 17% statewide. 

By reducing the number of trash trucks on the road through the universal hauler ordinance and offering recycling and compost removal, Broomfield would increase its waste diversion to 29% and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by more than 14,000 tons a year, a 4.3% improvement toward the city and county’s 2025 emissions reduction goal. 

But the practical application is a lot more complicated than anticipated, said Mayor Guyleen Castriotta, who also said she didn’t foresee the nuance involved when she pushed to put together a ballot measure. 

“We definitely want this to be something the community has the chance to engage with,” Castriotta said. 

Lingering questions include costs and opt-out fees as well as how the ordinance would apply to homeowners associations. 

Approximately 60-70% of Broomfield homeowners associations have contracted trash removal services already, Valdez said, and Council would need to decide how and when to phase in the new system in light of those contracts. 

Every Councilmember who spoke Tuesday said they were in favor of spending more time on the topic and allowing for more community input, but only two said they were still in favor of putting it on the ballot — Mayor Pro Tem Stan Jezerski and Councilmember William Lindstedt. 

Jezerski said he is confident it would be successful as a ballot measure and does not want Council to proceed without taking it to voters. 

“This is an emotional issue and requires complete public buy-in, and I think how we get there is through the ballot,” he said. 

The idea that Council would avoid a failed ballot measure by passing the ordinance itself struck him the wrong way, Jezerski said. 

“I think that’s an urging to circumvent the democratic process and potentially the will of the people,” he said. “... I’m against, especially on an emotional issue like this, shoving something down any of our citizens’ throats without a full democratic process.” 

Several Councilmembers, including James Marsh-Holschen, Heidi Henkel and Todd Cohen, said they disagreed with Jezerski’s characterization of a Council ordinance as stepping around the democratic process. 

“A lot of us had climate issues on our platforms,” Henkel said. “People have voted and they have voted in quite a strong way for these sustainability issues. People have trusted us and I think we need to honor that trust.” 

Universal waste haulers and recycling and composting will come before Council at a future study session.