The process of converting the city’s trash pickup to an automated system has been long and occasionally convoluted. Though rates have been approved by the City Council and implementation plans are in place, the new trash containers needed for the automated system are nowhere to be seen.

The new containers are necessary because the automated trash pick-up system uses a mechanical arm to pick up garbage, alleviating strain on city sanitation workers. A microchip in the container registers with a sensor on the truck, enabling the city to charge a “tip” fee of $1.25 every time the container is emptied. With the implementation of the automated system comes a raised solid waste rate. All households in the city will pay a $9.25 monthly fee, up from $7.25, regardless of whether they use the city trash service.

The previous estimated start date of mid July has passed, and August rapidly approaches. Though Public Works Director Gary Schellhorn clarified at Tuesday’s City Council meeting that increased solid waste rates will not go into effect until the new trash containers arrive, he did not provide a guess as to when that would be.

At a City Council meeting in late June, Schellhorn mentioned that he was in contact with the container’s manufacturer, Elliot Equipment in Davenport, and would have a definite start date determined shortly. However, a date has yet to be announced and the containers have yet to be shipped.

A representative for Elliot Equipment said that the containers were still being manufactured, and estimated that they would be shipped “fairly soon,” but was also unable to give an exact date. Attempts to reach Schellhorn for further comment were unsuccessful.

Until the new containers are shipped, the automated service cannot begin. Residents will be required to use the sticker system to mark bags of trash for pickup. Schellhorn said at a previous meeting that any unused stickers held by residents or businesses can be turned in for refund at City Hall once they are no longer useful.

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