City leaders agreed not to make any decisions for a year regarding whether to do away with twice-weekly pickup in Venice, but that doesn’t mean they can’t study it in the meantime.
Last week Venice City Council voted 5-2 to request more research on the issue, likely conducted by a third-party professional consultant.
Some council members previously complained they weren’t given enough information to make an informed decision on whether to continue with twice-weekly pickup or change it to weekly pickup.
Preliminary staff-generated studies suggest the savings would be minimal and the community, especially the elderly population, overwhelmingly supports trash pickup two times each week.
Mayor John Holic and Council Member Bob Daniels say the paltry cost savings suggested by staff just don’t add up, and want more information.
“What would happen to overtime? And ‘green-ness?’ How much fuel would it save? (What’s the) wear and tear on trucks if a quarter of them were moved to weekly pickup?” asked Holic.
“If people want to continue to pay at the current rate, we should have no problem. If they are anxious to get a reduction, we need to have facts.”
“I don’t think any of us have gotten an honest answer,” said Council Member Jeanette Gates, “and the hard-core cost of this.”
She reminded council that the city’s Environmental Advisory Board recommended one-day-a-week pickup for environmental reasons and its assumed cost savings.
“I’m not after their jobs,” said Daniels, responding to concerns about the impact the discussion is having on staff morale. “We have other jobs” for those displaced.
“I think we owe it to constituents to have a cost-effective program — even though it’s not an ad valorem-taxed program.”
“I support your contention that we are not looking (to displace) jobs,” said Council Member Kit McKeon, “but efficiency.”
Council Member Jim Bennett said he was against the motion to further study weekly pickup.
“My overwhelming feedback (indicates) people like two pickups a week and want to continue two pickups a week.”
Council Member Emilio Carlesimo, who also voted against the motion, said the study could backfire.
“Employees have gone the last five years with no raise and promotions and have demonstrated their dedication to the city,” Carlesimo said.
Further cuts in personnel, he implied, could further affect staff morale.