By Sterling McGinn

A decision to look into outsourcing the removal of village garbage was made at the June meeting of the Newberry Village Council.

The meeting was held in-person and virtually in the Water and Light building on Tuesday, June 15 at 6 p.m. All members of the council were present, and only two members of the public attended, with another listening via Zoom.

The matter of garbage removal was brought forth largely due to the aging village garbage truck, and the cost of purchasing a new truck. The village garbage committee met to discuss the future of garbage removal, and whether the village should continue offering garbage services, or contract with an outside vendor.

“There were several options of doubling down on garbage with the village, which would require us to purchase a new truck,” explained village manager Allison Watkins. “This was all prompted by the fact that our truck is aging, and we need to decide if we are going to replace it, or pursue other options.”

She noted that if an outside vendor were used, it would be most economical for the village, and would also save the customers money. “We asked for some estimates from local providers, and it was determined that the prices, (depending on the customer), would be lower for some or pretty similar.”

An outside contract would also provide the village with weekly recycling pickups and spring cleanup dumpsters.

The garbage committee made a recommendation to the council to pursue looking into an outside contactor to take over garbage. “They would do their own billing and it would free up 16 hours a week of staff time,” said Watkins.  “We would see the garbage property tax millage dissolve, along with the $4.50 charge for every customer.”

If the council decides to move forward with an outside vendor, the village will advertise for bids on services. The company that receives the bid will be the only vendor allowed to operate within the village.

Trustee Jeff Puckett asked if the board could actually prevent a garbage provider from operating in the village. “It’s actually fairly common,” stated village president Catherine Freese. “I can tell you first hand that the community that I lived in before moving to Michigan—the county had a contract with one vendor.”

The current village ordinance, which governs garbage removal, states that the village can choose to provide garbage service, or let other contracts come into the village.

After a lengthy discussion, the council voted to accept the garbage committee’s recommendation with trustee Dennis Hendrickson voting against the motion.

In other news, local resident Jack Olson was appointed to fill the Water and Light Board vacancy after the resignation of Mike Schnoor several months ago. Olson will begin serving on the board at next month’s meeting.

Other business that evening included: reports from village management and officers, the payment of village/Water and Light bills and updates on the 2019 and 2020 audits.