Breckenridge puts a target on illegal dumping, overflowing bins
With the contract for Breckenridge’s trash and recycling collections expired last year, town officials hope to address a few lingering issues, including overflowing dumpsters and illegal dumping, with the next one.
Breckenridge is operating on a month-to-month agreement with Timberline Disposal, said Mark Johnston, the town’s assistant director of public works.
Without a long-term agreement, town staff are working on a new request for proposals for the town’s trash and recycling collections as they seek to quash a handful of concerns from local business owners, residents, town council members and even town staff. According to Johnston, they’re shooting to get the request for proposals out no later than Nov. 1.
Breckenridge originally passed an ordinance in 1996 regulating public and private dumpsters and trash enclosures to address potential problems with pests and rodents, issues with the appearance of overflowing trash bins and safety hazards.
But much has changed in the last 22 years. The number of businesses operating in town is significantly greater, new types of businesses have sprung up, waste and recycling streams have evolved and the town has set ambitious goals for waste diversion and recycling. The increasingly large number of visitors hasn’t helped matters, either.
“We’re a bigger town now,” Johnston said. “We’re producing more trash … and because of all that, we’re dealing with some capacity issues.”
As the town prepares to put out its newest request for proposals, staff are focusing on three distinct areas — dumpsters serving town facilities, on-street trash and recycling receptacles and the town-owned shared enclosures being used by private businesses in the downtown area.
Currently, Breckenridge has nine dumpster buildings reserved for town operations. In some cases, like at the Public Works building and golf course clubhouse, spikes in volume regularly leave these bins full. As a result, town staff would like to see increased collection rates.
Staff are also recommending that the town’s on-street trash and recycling bins — more than 170 combined — be emptied more regularly, as some of those containers also overflow at times, a problem that Johnston largely attributed to the town’s growing number of visitors.
The on-street bins are emptied by a contractor three days a week — Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays — and a fourth time by town staff. With the town supplementing the weekly collections, staff have spent over 1,500 hours emptying these bins, combined with the bins at town parks, so far this year.
Naturally, town staff are recommending increasing the pick-up frequency for the on-street bins, suggesting that they be emptied five days a week on contract during the busiest times of the year.
The town won’t recoup all the hours staff are currently spending emptying on-street trash and recycling bins, Johnston said, but he thinks Breckenridge might save up to the equivalent of one full-time worker. Breckenridge is also installing new signage for the on-street bins in hopes of reducing the amount of trash that’s contaminating the recycling bins.
For the town-owned shared enclosures, currently accessed with a number code, there are a few ideas, too.
The town installed the shared enclosures in the late 1990s for businesses in the downtown core. However, town staff have noticed an uptick in the unauthorized use of these enclosures as of late and, perhaps related, the frequent contamination of recycling bins inside the enclosures.
Beyond that, the share enclosures are seeing more volume than they were originally intended for, and business owners have complained that the billing rates are not equal.
To address some of these problems, staff are suggesting the town should look to better control who’s using these enclosures and recommending the installation of RFID card readers.
By switching from the current system, a punched-in number code that is easily shared from one person to the next, to town-issued RFID cards, like the ones many employers give their workers to allow easy access into a workplace, the town can install security cameras and see exactly who’s using the enclosures in real time.
Staff are also recommending the town restructure its fees for enclosures so that businesses are charged based on the type of business and how much trash it might generate.
Staff would like to require that all businesses using the enclosures submit an annual “business waste questionnaire” to get access. Even then, each business would only be issued a limited number of RFID cards.
At the same time the town’s looking for a new contract, officials are also working on crafting a new ordinance apart from the aforementioned recommendations that will target some of the illegal dumping that’s been happening in Breckenridge, Johnston said.
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