Hawarden garbage bags pile up

Garbage collection was a temporary problem for Hawarden residents last week, but city officials are working on resolving the situation with contracted garbage collector.

HAWARDENGarbage collection was a temporary problem for Hawarden residents last week, but city officials are working on resolving the situation with contracted garbage collector Independence Waste, a company based out of Elk Point, SD.

This topic was added as a discussion item during the Hawarden City Council monthly meeting May 22.

Starting early last week, garbage was not being picked up by Independence due to a financial “glitch” the company had gone through, said Hawarden city administrator Mike DeBruin.

All residential customers were impacted by this, along with most all commercial costumers.

“When people don’t get their garbage emptied, they’re upset, and justifiably so,” DeBruin said. “They pay for a service, and they expect those services to be carried out.”

To deal with the situation, the city received assistance from OC Sanitation of Orange City, who began collecting the garbage on a temporary as-needed basis.

The next step is to wait for word from Independence Waste and what they plan to do. DeBruin has been assured OC Sanitation will continue to provide garbage collection services to Hawarden residents until details emerge and decisions can begin to be made.

The city remains under contract with the company for another six months, and it’ll remain that way until one of several outcomes come to pass.

“That’s either the contract is defaulted on, honored or given up mutually by both parties,” DeBruin said. “We will remain under contract with them, but if for some reason that contract is defaulted on, we’d probably look at OC Sanitation right away to fill our immediate needs.”

DeBruin’s goal for having the discussion at the city council meeting was to get council consensus on how to move forward and to inform them and the public of the situation.

“We have three weeks until our next council meeting, so to wait another three weeks if the what-ifs happen, we would rather have a plan now to move forward than wait another three weeks,” DeBruin said.

As he told the council members, Independence Waste has indicated in early talks that they would be willing to sever their contract altogether if the city would be willing to as well. In that situation, it’d have to be agreed to mutually by both parties.

“That would then allow us to negotiate with another hauler,” DeBruin said.

City officials have looked into other options, according to DeBruin, including the possibility of the city of Hawarden providing garbage collection services. As it turns out from their studying of the issue, it’d be an expensive endeavor with little room for making money.

“We could break even and maybe even come out just a little bit ahead, but I don’t think it’s enough for us to lay out the capital up front,” DeBruin said. “We’re talking probably $600,000-$750,000 up front just to buy the dumpsters and the trucks and everything to get started. I think our best bet at this point is to negotiate a contract with another hauler and get out of the other one.”

From early conversations he’s already had with OC Sanitation, he said it sounds like they’d provide services for a cost that’s “going to be right in the ballpark” of what they currently pay, though rates would likely be a bit higher.