As it stands right now, if you're a City of Batavia resident, you have no idea who will pick up your garbage come April 1.
Monday night, the city council rejected, on a 2-7 vote, a change in the trash ordinance that, by their own admission, they asked city staff to draft. And with the Genesee ARC contract expiring March 31, it will take some quick work to come up with a new trash plan.
The clear direction from the council members after the 2-7 vote: get the city out of the trash business.
That means a municipal contract with Genesee ARC, after 28 years, will not be renewed and each property owner or resident will be free to select any trash collection vendor.
Councilman Jim Russell said that while council members heard from Genesee ARC supporters, they also heard from a lot of people who liked the proposed changes to trash collection in the city. But more, he said, they heard from people who said the city shouldn't be involved in trash collection at all.
"The City of Batavia or any government entity doesn’t belong in business if they don’t have to be," Russell said. "We have a lot of work to do. But if we can make this happen, people will have the choice they asked for."
Donna Saskowski, executive director of Genesee ARC, said after the decision that her agency is ready to provide trash service to city residents on a contract basis if the council fashions a plan that allows ARC to fulfill its primary mission: Employ people with disabilities.
"I think there needs to be some resolution and some more equitable way to charge people for trash and recycling," Saskowski said.
ARC is has always been ready to provide a rate-based service, she said.
"We never had that discussion," Saskowski said. "They never discussed that with me. We never knew about the rates. I think that’s something that’s really up to the council. We’re ready to provide a service. We’ll see what happens."
Saskowski indicated, however, there's still a chance Genesee ARC could get a sole-source contract with the city.
"I still think preferred-source vendor discussion should still be on the table," Saskowski said. "I don't think the city administration agrees with me, but I think it should.
"I was always willing to work ith the city before and I'm willing to work with them now."
The two votes in favor of the new trash plan came from Pierluigi Cipollone and Rose Mary Christian.
Cipollone pointed out that the proposal before the council was what members asked city staff to draft and by the direction of council, it reduces property taxes.
"If we're trying to be a fisically responsible council, this is something we need to do," Cipollone said.
After the decision was made, Cipollone warned that the council was about to embark on a plan that would cost city residents a lot more money.
"The people of Batavia will be spending more now on an individual basis than they would have from any of the offers on the table," Cipollone said.
Molino said he accepted the council's decision to change directions at the 11th hour.
"We did what we were asked in putting together budget, but sometimes things take turns we can’t predict," Molino said. "That happened this time, so now we respond to it."
At a Wednesday evening meeting, city staff will present a plan to the council that will keep trash out of the city budget -- meaning the 16-percent tax cut is retained -- and prepares the city for conversion to a self-selected, private-hauler solution.
Between now and Wednesday city staff will need to figure out the logistics of ensuring all city residents are ready to contract for their own trash collection by April 1, or find out if it's possible to extend Genesee ARC's contract for some period of time, buying more time for the conversion to a private-hauler system.