Get ready for 96-gallon bins, reduced recycling pickup in new trash contract

By Ralph Echtinaw

The terms of a new waste hauling contract for St. Louis and Alma, expected to begin May 1, 2022, are becoming clear, and the trash experience for homeowners is expected to change dramatically.

A solid waste committee comprising officials from the twin cities met Tuesday to hash out the details.

City Manager Kurt Giles was there and reported to city council Tuesday.

The future in trash pickup, Giles said, is the 96-gallon bin that can be picked up and dumped into trucks mechanically. This accelerates the pace of pickup and is safer for operators.

Residents will likely be issued two 96-gallon bins; one for trash, one for recyclables. The committee is in general agreement that recyclables will be picked up monthly, while trash will continue to be picked up weekly. The hauler will provide the bins to residents and replace them if they are damaged.

Since the new recyclables bin will have five times the capacity of the current 18-gallon totes, there’s no need to pick up recyclables weekly, Giles said. And the contract will cost St. Louis and Alma less if recyclables are picked up less frequently than trash.

Water main extension

Councilmen approved a $109,900 payment to Rowe Professional Services for water main bidding, construction staking, inspection and contract administration for a project to replace the water mains on Hebron (from Olive to Fairway), Prospect (from Corinth to Teman), Berea (from Prospect to Tamarack), Tamarack (from Berea to Corinth) and the extension of a water line on Wells.

“In addition to water main improvements, some segments of the road surface will be improved,” said Jeff Markstrom of Rowe in a letter to the city. “There is also a small segment of gravity sanitary sewer that will be replaced near the intersection of Prospect and Sharon.”

The city intends to solicit bids early next year with construction occurring between April and August. The total construction cost is expected to be $1.25 million.

Police computers

Councilmen approved purchase of two two Panasonic Toughbook FZ-55 LTE laptop computers from I.T. Right of Bath, Mich. for $7,623. The laptops will replace two similar models that are more than 10 years old and have stopped working.

Police Sgt. Kristi Forshee told councilmen that officers use the laptops to make reports and mine data on motorists. Just enter a car’s license plate, and the officer can see see, almost instantly, who the registered owner of the vehicle is and if they have insurance or warrants for their arrest. “When one of our computers goes down in the car we’re lost,” Forshee said.

“The better the computer is in the officers’ cars, the better off everyone is,” said Councilman Bill Leonard. “The more information the officer can get immediately is good for not only them but whoever’s being detained. If there’s a lag period there you get a nervous subject.”

Meter reading software

Council approved adoption of new meter reading software that will reduce costs and provide additional data for the city on electric and water usage. 

The Sensus Analytics software comes from Etna Supply of Grand Rapids. This will cost $5,500 to set up and $31,980 hosting fee for the first year. The annual hosting fee will increase each year, topping out at $39,030 in 2026.

Costs would be higher if the city stuck with its current meter reading software; called Logic. The annual fee to keep Logic would start at $40,930.

Sensus Analytics has a power-outage management system, which is “something we’ve been trying to work toward.” Giles said. “This is a significant step in the direction of having an information system for outage management. We’re told we will like Sensus Analytics much better than Logic. This could lead into a customer information system that is web based.” In other words, residents may be able to get online to see what the status of a power outage is.

“We think it’s the start of better things to come,” Giles said.

New planning commissioner

Council appointed James J. Horvat, 64, to a vacancy on the planning commission. Horvat’s Dec. 21 letter offering his services came at the right time, as the planning commission is about to lose one member (Jim Kelly, who retired as mayor that very day). In his letter, Horvat wrote: “I became interested in local politics and decided it was time to get involved. I heard about the unfilled spots on the city committees. I am ready to serve the community in this area. I believe the planning commission would be a good place to start.”

Horvat worked at General Motors for 30 years and at an Ithaca factory for 10 years. 

Salt barn damaged

From Public Services Director Keith Risdon’s monthly report: “The back wall of the DPW salt storage barn gave way with the recent windstorm. We have had no success with getting a contractor to provide the city with an estimate for repair. With this latest damage, we expect that the upper structure of the salt barn is irreparable so once the salt has been removed this upper wood structure will need to be removed. We are looking into replacing the facility with a salt dome and repurposing the 24×30 concrete structure for equipment storage.”

Kentucky aid

Councilman (soon to be mayor) Tom Reed suggested that the city do something to encourage people to donate money to tornado relief in Kentucky. After discussion it was agreed that something will be placed on the city web site and Facebook page encouraging residents to make donations to Red Cross disaster relief.

Categories: Uncategorized

6 replies »

  1. Beginning next month, you will need to revert back to Council person instead of Councilman. We have had a female member all the years I have been on the Council except the last two.
    I would like to express my gratitude to all of the council members I have served with, the city employees and especially the citizens for their interest and their willingness to cooperate. I have thoroughly enjoyed my years on your Council.
    Jim Kelly


  2. The extra details on the new Trash contract is nice to have in advance. Will they still allow one “big” item per week, or month? What if we go over the 96 gallon trash capacity? Do we know that yet?


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