Residents Challenge Novi’s Trash Plan
Novi News by James Mitchell December 1, 2015
Earlier this year city officials were united in support of an ordinance that would lead to a single hauler for most residential trash and recycling removal. Mayor Bob Gatt said the city was well within its rights to adopt the policy and explore ways to save money.
In equally unanimous fashion, residents – including homeowner association representatives and a former mayor – questioned whether adopting the ordinance was the right thing to do.
A public hearing was held Nov. 23 during the Novi City Council meeting to allow resident comments on a proposed bid package for waste removal. Gatt stressed that statements and questions – which would not be answered that night – should address the request for proposal as indicated on the agenda and not the policy itself.
“This is not about the city’s right or authority to adopt a single waste hauler ordinance or the council’s decision to do so,” Gatt said. “Garbage disposal is a core function of government.”
Gatt said the council had been unanimous in August when members took the first steps toward having one company contract with the city to service all single-family homes and some condominium complexes. The ordinance did not include apartment buildings and mobile home parks.
Most speakers, however, wondered if the city could or would reconsider the ordinance. Representatives of several homeowner associations said their memberships are satisfied by the current service provided by companies including Duncan Disposal, Rizzo Environmental Services and Advanced Disposal. Many felt that the ordinance represented a solution in search of a problem and had done so without taxpayer input.
“There should have been a public meeting to determine how homeowners felt about having one trash hauler,” said Phil Galicki, a Weston Estates resident. “We don’t feel we should be forced to change.”
John Kuenzel of the Echo Valley Homeowners Association said that residential boards would lose control over service quality if the city administered trash contracts.
“We’re happy with our current provider,” Kuenzel said. “Now the council has an answer to a problem we don’t have and we’d lose direct control of cost and performance.”
Follow the money
Several speakers said the ordinance invited problems and also raised separate questions. Several speakers pointed out that Rizzo Environmental – a likely bidder for the contract – had contributed to the recent campaigns of Gatt, Councilman Wayne Wrobel and the West Oakland Republican Club, which is led by Mayor Pro Tem David Staudt.
“If Rizzo is awarded the contract, it raises the appearance of impropriety,” Kuenzel said.
Others said that the timetable – with bids to go out early in 2016 for April or May service to begin – created problems for homeowner associations preparing to bill member residents by month’s end for annual services to include waste removal for 2016. Other concerns included stipulations as to size and number of containers and pickup schedules.
Gatt had previously told the Novi News that the goal remained to save residents money and that existing contracts would remain in place until their conclusion. City officials expect to introduce the new contract to about 15,000 homes, with another 3,000 added during the first two years of the expected five-year contract.
Former Mayor Patricia Karevich, a member of the Novi Heights Homeowners Association, said she hadn’t seen specifics, including pickup of bulk materials, during her review of the request for proposals. Karevich wondered if city officials were determined to follow the ordinance through to awarding a contract for a single hauler.
“If the bids are higher than what you’re anticipating, is it still a done deal?” Karevich asked.
More than two dozen residents spoke or asked questions that city officials said would be addressed in time. No comments were made to indicate that council might revisit the ordinance.
“You have the right to do what you wish,” said Tom Duncan, of prospective bidder Duncan Disposal. “But you have a bigger obligation to support the citizens. People have been speaking and don’t have a lot of confidence in (city council) choosing for them. They like the choices of dealing directly with people and not the government.”
I just found out today that there's going to be a roundabout put at 10 Mile and Napier. The project is slated to begin July 15. The site distance will be improved when they level the road. Drivers will be able to see oncoming traffic farther away. This project will be done by the Oakland County Road Commission. Many people who live near there and told me that it was a dangerous intersection. They will be relieved to know of the plans to make this intersection safer.