Will they or won't they?

The Marshfield Board of Aldermen again picked up a discussion of whether or not they will consider taking responsibility for waste management inside the city.

"Consider" is the operative word; by law, the board must declare if they are going to study the issue so that waste haulers can have two years to adapt to any change in their business model.

Mayor Robert Williams said at the Aug. 22 meeting that it's not uncommon for cities to have oversight of waste management. "We do have wear and tear on our roads for having heavy trucks go over our roads,” he said. “We’re not going to do anything for two years, but if we don’t make a proclamation, that will keep putting it out there for two more years."

Alderwoman Vicki Montgomery noted that approval to study the issue was just that —approval to study. “At the end of two years, we don’t have to do it,” she said.

However, Alderman Rob Foster worried about the message this might send about doing business in Marshfield.

There are a number of ways the city could approach trash, according to City Administrator John Benson. The city could start a new trash department and take it over fully, or it could put out a request for proposals for a single hauling service for residential waste. The mayor noted that the measure could be as simple as a franchise fee.

Benson explained, “The two-year time period gives notice that we’re studying something.”

The mayor requested that City Attorney Paul Link provide language to propose studying the issue at its meeting this week.

He added, “We’re not in the business of putting businesses out of business. We want to see them do well.” Mayor Williams does not see the city going into the waste management business, but he said he thinks the city could contract with a company and maybe even get citywide recycling out of the move.

Montgomery pointed out that the wear and tear on roads can be extensive. "My street has five houses. It has three different trash providers," she said. That's three heavy trucks per week on a residential street.

"I do think it's something that we need to do," Mayor Williams said.

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