EVART - The Evart city council approved extending the city's contract for refuse service with Republic Services at its meeting July 27.

As part of the new contract, residents will be receiving a wheeled cart to place their trash in and will no longer be required to purchase bags or be limited in the number of bags they can put out each week.

Evart city manager Sarah Dvoracek asked council to approve a five-year contract extension with Republic Services which would include $1.75 increase per household per month to move to a wheeled cart system.

"One of the reasons I was pushing to bid out the refuse and recycle was to inquire about the cart system," Dvoracek said. "I think implementing this cart system would help clean up the city which is part of our long term strategic plan. It would improve the overall appearance of the city."

Dvoracek said the city has had issues with residents not following the rules and exceeding the six bag trash limit which has led to extra bags and trash sitting on the curb for an extended time, and also with people from outside the city limits bringing their trash to vacant houses on collection days.

Republic Services representative Matt Biolette told the council that the self-metering aspect of the carts would help the city by regulating the amount of trash residents put out and eliminate the need for the police department to issue blight notices.

"If you can get it in the cart, you are set," he said.

In addition, Biolette added, in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDC warned about the transfer of the virus from flat surfaces, including trash bags.

"The preference is for residents to have cart automation," he said. "Many communities are now in the process of transitioning to cart service for the purpose of health and safety."

"Carts provide a clean and safe alternative to bags which attract animals and are easily torn open, littering the sidewalks," Dvoracek said. "Everyone will get a 96 gallon cart on wheels. There is an extra fee involved, but I think that will be outweighed by the benefit we get from it."

Biolette explained that the extra $1.75 fee would cover the cost the cart deployment and the long-term maintenance of the carts.

"The resident has a 100% guarantee on the cart for life," he said. "If a wheel breaks, if a lid breaks, if any part is broken and needs replacement, that is done at no cost to the resident"

Council member Matt Hildebrand suggested the council put out for bids for the cart service to see if there was a lower cost option.

"I think the carts are a great idea and would be a great asset and would clean our city," Hildebrand said. "But, I think the responsible thing to do would be to bid out the contract and see if there is another company that can provide the same service at a lower cost."

Biolette explained that the proposal presented to the city included a survey of service agreements recently signed with other companies and how they compared with the Republic contract.

"By far, we are getting the best price for what they offer compared to what other cities are getting," Dvoracek said. "The city has had a great partnership with Republic Services. I would like to stick with them based on our past relationship, and I think moving to a cart service is the way to go.

"Implementing the automated cart service would increase the resident's utility bill by $1.75 per month, totaling $16.06 per month which would include all the same current services," she continued. "That's $21 extra a year. You can't buy a 96 gallon cart on wheels for $21 and guarantee it for life. It is my recommendation that council extend the contract with Republic Services."

Biolette said implementing the cart service would take some time, and with the current contract set to expire in November, the city would need to make a decision soon.

Council member Sandy Zeliga said, "With the cart system, they won't use as many garbage bags and it is a lot neater. The animals can't get to the trash and the wind can't blow it around. Plus, your saving money on bags, so I think it is a great idea."

Mayor John Joyce added, "There is something to be said for a long-term partnership, and all in all, I think it will be good for the city."

The council approved the contract with Republic Services by a vote of 4-1, with Hildebrand voting no.

Evart City Council will meet virtually at 7:30 p.m., Monday, Aug. 24.

For information on how to access the virtual meeting visit evart.org or call (231) 734-2181.