NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Detroit Considers Privatizing Trash Collection

June 14, 2011

Detroit's population spiral has Mayor Dave Bing seriously considering privatizing garbage collection to improve collections and save cash, says the Detroit News.

  • The proposal, which could save nearly $14 million a year, is one of several in the city's five-year deficit elimination plan.
  • The plan could free up money for core services like public safety and improve operations to attract more residents to a city whose population has fallen 25 percent since 2000 to 713,777.
  • Union leaders object to the idea and say there's no evidence private companies could do a better job.

City officials have been looking at ways to overhaul garbage operations, particularly since population declines have complicated collections in the 139-square-mile city.  Garbage tonnage has dropped by 13 percent over the last year and 38 percent in the last five years.

The system is also beset with numerous problems, including dozens of trucks out of commission at any time and uncollected fees. 

  • About 30 percent of a controversial $240 fee homeowners pay for pickup is uncollected -- adding up to as much as $20 million a year, according to an audit of the system.
  • The audit suggests the city should reroute trucks to save $3 million to $7 million; reduce the frequency of bulk collection to save $3 million to $4 million; and eliminate service to commercial businesses to save $1 million.

Many cities such as Indianapolis, San Diego and San Francisco already have outside companies collect garbage, says the Detroit News.

Source: Darren A. Nichols, "Privatized Trash Pickup Weighed in Detroit," Detroit News, June 10, 2011


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