Private haulers will soon be able to bid on the town's plan to provide curbside recycling for the first time.
Town Manager Steve Husemann developed a plan earlier this year to have the town provide the service for $36 a year to whatever households signed up.
But town commissioners reached a consensus at their annual planning retreat at the Charles Mack Citizen Center last week to let private companies bid on the service, too.
Commissioner Chris Carney urged fellow commissioners to give private enterprise that chance. He said it was a question of transparency, to show the public that the town explored all possible avenues for providing the service at the best possible price.
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The town would still reserve the right to reject any and all bids and go with Husemann's original plan to have the town pick up recyclables curbside beginning in June, commissioners said.
To meet that target date, Husemann recommended at the retreat that at their Dec. 6 meeting, commissioners should consider authorizing the purchase of 6,000 "toters," household receptacles for collecting recyclables, and one new truck to collect curbside. The toters and truck would cost a total of about $550,000, he said.
But that timetable was before commissioners agreed to put the service out for bids, despite some skepticism from Husemann and at least one commissioner.
"I'm real skeptical that anybody's going to be close to this price," Husemann said of the $3 a month he proposed the town charge participating households for curbside pickup.
Commissioner Thurman Houston wondered whether the town would be, in essence, financially supporting a private business when he considers it the town's role to provide such a public service.
The town will seek bids on two recycling options: one for townwide service for all residents regardless of whether they take part, and the other for service to just those who sign up. The town could have the bids in for the commissioners to consider sometime in January, Husemann told the Observer.