By Coastal Star Staff

Two out of three coastal Delray Beach residents would rather switch to curbside garbage pickup, according to results of a city survey obtained by The Coastal Star.
The city in late November mailed surveys to 830 coastal homeowners asking if they wanted to continue to pay $22.24 a month for back-door pickup or switch to curbside, a monthly savings of $9.52.
Of the nearly 540 homeowners who responded, 348, or nearly 65 percent, said they would prefer the curbside pickup, and subsequent savings.
According to a memo from Lula Butler, the city’s director of Community Improvement, the survey was sparked by a complaint from a resident that many coastal homeowners were bringing their garbage curbside even though they were being charged extra for back-door service.
“We believe that since they must bring their recycling and bulk trash to the curb, it makes it fairly convenient to do the garbage at the same time,” Butler wrote in her March 15 memo to City Manager Harden.
Butler noted that the city monitored the contracted waste hauler, Waste Management, for two days in January 2009 and found that of the nearly 450 residents who did not take their garbage to the curb, Waste Management workers went to the back door to retrieve it.
The November survey did not solicit comments from residents, yet a few on both sides spoke up.
The most prevalent comment from those who voted to switch to curbside was that they did so because Waste Management had not picked up garbage they left at back doors.
“I have lived here for three years,” wrote a South Ocean Boulevard resident, “and have yet to have garbage picked up at the rear door.”
Added another South Ocean Boulevard resident who said he has carried his garbage curbside for 19 years: “I have been overcharged $9.52 a month — a total of $2,170. I should be entitled to a refund.”
Residents who voted in favor of keeping rear-door pickup said they did so because they either were too old to bring it curbside or snowbirds who let friends use their property and the friends didn’t know the pickup days.
A Melaleuca Road resident wrote that it is important to keep refuse from building up and dropping the back-door option would increase the “risk of rodent infestation.”
Added a Mirimar Drive resident: “I am 92 years old, so please continue.”               
Delray Beach is talking with trash hauler Waste Management in hopes of granting the wishes of residents who want their trash picked up at the curb rather than their back door, but it still could be a couple years before they see a change.
“We’d like to be able to offer it (curbside trash pickup) to them,” said City Manager David Harden, adding that at worst it could become available when the trash contract is rebid in two years.
Harden said in the discussions with Waste Management, the company has said different equipment is necessary for the curbside pickups. In addition, according to Butler’s report, the city will have the cost of supplying the standardized carts as an upfront cost, estimated at about $60,000.
The issue will be brought to commissioners for consideration likely during their April workshop.                              Ú
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