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WHITEFISH BAY - The Whitefish Bay Village Board will decide on Monday, May 15, whether to adopt a new automated recycling collection system that would come every other week instead of the current monthly pickup.

The village provides monthly pickup of 95-gallon carts placed at the curb or the alley edge. Additional carts can be purchased for $75. Village officials estimate 50 percent of residents have one cart, 49 percent have two carts and 1 percent have three or more carts. Some homes have as many as six carts.

The number of bins at each house would theoretically be reduced by doubling the number of recycling collections per month. To handle the doubled workload, the village would have to purchase an additional truck, which would cost $330,000.

The automated collection would allow drivers to use a joystick that would wrap around the sides of 95-gallon carts placed within 10 to 15 feet of the side of the truck. Drivers would rarely have to leave the truck, which would improve efficiency in recycling operations.

Currently, 90 percent of residents leave their carts at the curb, but the other 10 percent of households leave their carts by the house, which requires drivers to get out and roll the cart back to the truck. If the village moves to an automated recycling system, all items would have to be placed inside of a recycling cart that is wheeled to the curb or the pavement edge of the alley

Half of village homes use small bins or set out loose recyclables that public works employees have to pick up by hand. Under the automated recycling program, all loose recyclables and items from small bins would have to be placed in a larger recycling cart that would be placed at the curb or the pavement edge of the alley.

Village officials analyzed the pros and cons of automated pickup, manual pickup and contracted recycling collection services. They determined that biweekly automated collection would be the least expensive of the biweekly collection options.

They determined the cost of operations and maintenance when accounting for capital costs and depreciation are as follows: $147,000 for current monthly collection; $158,000 for biweekly automated collection; $168,000 for biweekly manual collection; and $227,000 for biweekly contracted collection.

Automatic side-loading trucks would reduce injuries, like the time public works employee George Medina slipped and broke his arm collecting cardboard from a person's driveway. Or the incident a couple years later when he slipped on ice and "collapsed his back muscles for two years."

"The time that you are walking on clear ice that you can't see and you are carrying cardboard is probably the most dangerous part of the job," he said.

If the village board were to decide not to get the automated side-loading trucks, Sheiffer suggested the current rear-loading trucks be replaced with side-loading trucks with two tippers. That option would require the additional truck as well as an additional employee.

Side-loading manual trucks would not prevent as many injuries as the automatic-loading trucks, but it would keep drivers out of the roadway. Six months ago, a distracted driver in Racine killed a public works employee who was loading a garbage cart on to a rear-loading truck.

The village board will hold a public hearing regarding the automated biweekly collection at 6 p.m. Monday, May 15 on the second floor of Whitefish Bay Village Hall, 5300 N. Marlborough Drive. After hearing resident input, the village board is scheduled to make a decision that would go into effect in March 2018.

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