PERALTA—What was once a hot-button issue, the Town of Peralta is again considering putting out a request for proposals for a solid waste single hauler to provide services to local residences and businesses.
Mayor Bryan Olguin said the idea of contracting with a single hauler was brought up a few years ago, but the council didn’t move forward with it after some opposition.
Residents and businesses in Peralta are currently serviced by three different trash haulers — Waste Management, Universal Waste Systems and AC Disposal Services, Inc.
“I got a call that one of the trucks tore up pavement in a cul de sac,” Olguin said at a recent council meeting. “We have three haulers coming into town and they’re coming in on different and sometimes the same days, going down the same streets.”
Without having a contract with a single hauler, the mayor said the town has no control over the price residents and business owners have to pay the three different companies for trash service. Olguin also said without a contract, the town is also missing out on services for residents, such as senior discounts, recycling, rolloffs for clean-up days and more.
“After all the roads we’ve been paving, it’s not the smart or the responsible thing to do to not go with one hauler so the residents and town can get a better deal,” the mayor said.
Councilor Joseph Romero said ever since the town incorporated, he has been a proponent of the free market system, making sure residents had an option of who they wanted to do business with.
“I’ve also been very concerned in making sure our infrastructure is adequate and that we can manage it,” Romero said. “But we have three different (solid waste) providers in our neighborhoods nearly every day. I’m torn on it, but I do see the benefit of getting into an agreement with just one provider.”
Romero said the town needs to limit and control the impact of the amount of large trucks on its infrastructure, pointing out that residents enjoy having nice streets.
“We definitely hear about it when they don’t,” he added.
Councilor Randy Smith, who has two commercial front load containers and his two businesses in the town, said the trucks are “extremely heavy” and has torn up asphalt on his property.
“The problem is convincing the public,” Smith said. “As the government, we’re going to make the decision on who you are going to use. Sometimes we have three trucks going down the same road.”
Smith said he does see the benefits of going with a single hauler if the town is able to negotiate a good contract with a company that will offer senior and veteran’s discounts.
“I’m a capitalist and I want to let the people decide who to use, but if we’re diligent and figure out what is best for the community, sometimes government can do good for the community,” Smith said. “I’m in favor of going out for a request for proposal and the public will have input. I think this would be in their best interest.”
Romero agreed, saying the residents and business owners would have input.
“They need to play a very active role because they’re the ones who will be dealing with this,” Romero said.
Smith said one concern he wants to be addressed is fees, such as if gas prices increase.
“I want a contingency if gas prices go up,” he said. “On the other hand, we have to be careful on contingencies for rate increases. That is something we need to convince the public — that it’s something we’ll look really hard at.”
Olguin said the issue was tabled about five years ago when he had the idea of entering into a five-year contract, and then the town would have the option of buying them out and the town would then provide solid waste services.
“Then I learned about insurance and the liability,” Olguin said. “I had talked with officials from Los Lunas, and they told me there’s a lot of money in solid waste. This councilor (Joseph Romero) shot me down, and thank God you shot me down.”
The mayor said he and staff will explore what surrounding communities have in terms of solid waste services. Olguin also promised public meetings will be held so residents and business owners can give input.
Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin.
She is a native of the city of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. During her time at the paper, Clara has won numerous awards for her writing, photography and typography and design both from the National Newspaper Association and the New Mexico Press Association.