Members of the Lake Mills City Council weren’t shy about sharing their displeasure with the bulk pickup program started at the beginning of the year at a meeting Tuesday where they were asked to approve next year’s almost 10% rate increase for the company.
The council approved the rate increase in a 4-1 vote with council vice president Mike Foster voting no, after hearing about the challenges in the recycling industry nationwide.
“We’ve heard about a lot of issues, mainly stuff sitting on the curb for long periods of time,” Foster said, discussing the change to a call-in system for bulk pickup instead of having a designated day each month for it. “I would like for this to go back to the one Thursday a month. It’s been very frustrating to this community.”
Brian Jongetjes, president of John’s Disposal, said he was blindsided about the issues with pick up that are going on in the city.
“We just hadn’t heard about it and it’s our fault,” he said “This is the first we’ve heard of the problem. This is a better program in the city’s we do it in,” he continued. “What we failed in is the transition. When they call us, we have a work order, it’s mapped out and we go get it.”
He said if the city wasn’t happy with the service the company provides they should get bids.
“We have a lot of pride in what we do. We can’t do it the old way anymore,” he said siting the cost of labor and the unpredictability of what they would find driving city streets for bulk pick up one day a month.
The rate increase for next year is all about recycling. According to Jongetjes, the market for recycling is so low because China no longer takes any recyclables from the United States. The market is currently saturated with recyclables.
“It’s 22 months this has been going on and it’s nearly put us out of business,” he said.
The company now sells their recyclables to Georgia Pacific in Green Bay.
Jongetjes mentioned it’s important for people not to recycle any plastic bags and to remember to flatten boxes.
“I’m really embarrassed and sorry that it went this way and it’s our fault,” he said.
City Manager Steve Wilke cautioned the council that it would be hard to get a better rate if they bid out the job.
“You are going to have a very tough time bidding this out. You are going to find the cost is about the same,” Wilke said.
Despite the issues with the bulk program the city has been experiencing this year Jongetjes said his company has worked hard for the city over the years.
“It’s hard to justify a 10% increase,” Foster said.
“A $1.25 a month increase a month doesn’t sound as bad as a 10% increase,” Vickie Schmidt, council member said.
The contract calls for a 9.7% increase.
“I think we need more education to see if this program works. We need to watch it very carefully,” said Doug Fritsch.
Residents who have bulk pick up items are asked to call 262-473-4700 or email email@example.com. Residents can have one bulk pick up a month for free.
According to Wilke’s city manager’s report, John’s has had a contract with the city for about 20 years.
In other business the council:
— Approved a Class B beer and liquor license for El Mariachi.
— Approved a Class B liquor license for Underground Hub.
— Approved the project plan for Tax Incremental District No.7.
— Approved a committee for the 2020 Census.
— Approved annual weights and measures assessments.
— Heard the first reading of amending parking on Main Street.