ELMA — A manager for LeMay’s garbage service in Elma met quite a bit of vocal resistance Monday night after informing more than 35 attendees of a City Council meeting that the city’s sole garbage provider will force all of the city’s residents to put their garbage receptacles out on the street, instead of in the alleys.
The majority of the city already has streetside garbage service, but the city’s downtown core and neighboring communities on Main Street get their garbage service in the alleys.
Manager Paul Dionne says that’s just not possible anymore, noting that the wear and tear on the company’s trucks are getting too much and the company sometimes has to make multiple trips down alleys because of cars that are legally parked, but blocking the trucks’ paths. One issue, Dionne acknowledged, is that LeMay’s used to have rear-loading trucks, but now they have trucks that collect the garbage from the side, which are larger and can barely fit down the 10-foot-wide alley.
“The industry has changed but the town hasn’t,” said Elma resident Dean Morrow. “So, why can’t the industry change for the town rather than the town change for the industry? That’s what I would like to know. We haven’t changed. You’re trying to change us. It’s so inconvenient. I counted — I will have 18 garbage cans outside my house for three days because people put them out Monday night, then they won’t bring them back until Wednesday. You guys needs to adapt and not us.
“It would drive up your costs eventually and that’s what we’re trying to be a steward of,” Dionne said, adding that new trucks would have to be purchased sooner.
“I’d rather look at a price increase rather than have my garbage cans overflowing on the city street,” Morrow added.
On Sept. 24, LeMay’s issued a letter to its customers in Elma telling them about the potential change.
“LeMay Enterprises would like to propose moving the service of your garbage and recycle totes out of the residential alleyways within the city of Elma,” Dionne wrote to customers. “Once implemented, we will be asking each of you to begin placing your totes on the road in front of your home on the scheduled service day.”
The letter asked residents to come to Monday’s City Council meeting so that Dionne could explain their reasoning a bit more.
However, residents at the meeting soon discovered that the company had already decided it was moving forward with its proposal, effective Dec. 3, and there was nothing they or the council could do to stop them.
“That’s deceit,” said Elma resident Ralph Frederick, prompting several boos from the crowd. “That letter was a bait and switch.”
Frederick noted that Harold LeMay, the original founder of LeMay’s, would have had more respect than to force this issue.
“I don’t think Harold LeMay, rest his soul, would be too worried of inconveniencing this many people over a little added maintenance on two trucks,” Frederick said. “LeMay’s a guy, who along with maintaining his whole fleet of trucks, wonderfully maintained 3,400 classic cars, costing millions of dollars. And you’re going to tell me they need to inconvenience all of us over the increased maintenance on two trucks? I’m not buying it.”
“A-men,” another resident added.
Former councilman Jim Sorensen said that if LeMay’s wants to force this change, it should have to go back to the bargaining table with the city and add the change to the contract. At a minimum, others noted, the city should let residents dump their service so they can take their own garbage to the landfill.
Councilman Tom Boling explained that there is no clause in the city’s contract specifying where the garbage needs to be picked up. He noted LeMay’s had asked council members to approve a resolution requiring residents to make the change, and the council refused because, “We had no desire to be the scapegoats here. This is the company’s decision not ours.”
In fact, Boling noted that the council may have to pass new laws requiring garbage cans be put away after a day’s use or residents may face a fine. Otherwise, there may be fears of continued placement of garbage cans and added litter on the city’s main streets.
Elma resident Gary Gordon notes that it’s going to be very hard for a garbage truck to collect the cans on Main Street because there are cars parked there all the time and the trucks won’t be able to get to the cans. In other cases, the street is down a long, steep embankment, which will make it impossible for a homeowner to bring the garbage down to the road. Dionne said LeMay’s will pick up extra garbage the following week at no charge.
Dionne said that LeMay’s does have a “walk-out” service to help the elderly and persons with disabilities if they are unable to bring their cans out to the street.
For more information on the change, call LeMay’s Office at (360) 533-1251.
The Vidette also welcomes your thoughts on this issue at firstname.lastname@example.org.