Smaller waste containers coming soon

Some new, smaller garbage and recycling containers will be distributed to Fort Dodge sanitation customers on a first-come, first-served basis.

The city has 150 of the 45-gallon containers and an additional 300 may be ordered by the end of this year to be distributed in the same way.

In agreeing Monday to start handing out the containers in that manner, the City Council set aside a recommendation from City Manager David Fierke that would have limited them to people who have a handicapped parking placard.

There will be no charge to residents for the smaller containers.

Each of the city’s roughly 8,400 sanitation customers received two 95-gallon containers in January as the Public Works Department switched to a new collection method that relies on trucks with mechanical arms to pick up both garbage and recycling materials. Last spring, city officials began getting complaints from residents who said the containers are too big.

In response, last month the council ordered 75 of the smaller garbage containers and 75 of the smaller recycling containers from Otto Environmental Systems of Charlotte, N.C., at a cost of $7,485.

They were delivered to the city Monday, and the council had to decide how to distribute them.

The city has a list of 115 people who requested smaller containers, according to Public Works Director Greg Koch.

Mayor Matt Bemrich argued for a distribution method that would accommodate the most people.

”If we’re hearing from someone who has been a sanitation customer for six months or 60 years that they have a need, that’s who we should try to accommodate,” he said. ”There’s no way we can have a one-size- fits-all policy forever. Let’s just be customer friendly.”

He also said he it would be unfair to offer the smaller containers to just one group of people.

”In my opinion, we can’t have an option that gives it to one segment of the population and not another,” Bemrich said. ”If we’re going to have two options, you have to have both options for everybody.”

The City Council plans to review the container situation again in six months, although the 300 additional containers will likely be ordered before that time.

When the new collection system started, city residents no longer had to sort out their recycling materials. Councilman Dave Flattery said the ability to simply drop all the recycling items into one container is a good change that should not be overlooked in the debate over the size of the bins.

”I think the overall movement to this unified container has been positive,” he said. ”I think it’s a good program.”