James City County Trash Consolidation
Currently, James City County does not provide curbside trash collection; households contract with private haulers or through a homeowners association for trash collection services, or residents can drop off trash at the County’s convenience centers for a fee. In addition, the County provides a bulky items pickup service for a fee. Leaf drop-off and collection is provided three times per year and no additional fees are charged. The County also provides a subscription-based curbside recycling service for a fee.
In 2019, students in the Masters in Public Policy Program at William & Mary conducted a research project on the feasibility of a unified solid waste collection scheme. The project identified the problem as, “the solid waste removal system within [James City County] is unorganized and inefficient.” The students presented their findings to the Board at the Nov. 26, 2019 business meeting (minutes). The group’s overall recommendation to the Board was to consider adopting a Universal Service Model to provide the greatest cost savings for residents. A Universal Service Model is funded through a real estate property tax and provides identical service, including recycling, to all households (as opposed to a Best Practices model, which has a “pay-as-you-throw” fee structure, incentivizing recycling). The students listed the potential benefits as, fairer pricing (one price for all residents), more easily accessible information (through the County website), decreased nuisance and inefficiencies and being more environmentally friendly (fewer trucks on the road releasing emissions). The drawbacks discussed were maintaining business-as-usual was easier and had less legal risks (displacing current haulers), potentially higher prices for certain residents and limiting free market choice.
On Nov. 24, 2020, Grace Boone, General Services Director, discussed at the Board of Supervisors business meeting (minutes) the need to hire a consultant to perform a solid waste consolidation study. County staff sought support to pursue a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a solid waste consolidation study, to provide alternatives, true price points and recommendations for the Board of Supervisors’ consideration. The study aimed to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of
- a voluntary or mandatory program,
- fee based or paid through taxes,
- homeowners associations (HOAs) being required to participate or excluded,
- the program being executed by a contractor or internal staff,
- the program to be offered inside the Primary Service Area (PSA) only or to all residents,
- and throughout the process, obtaining public involvement.
The Board gave approval to pursue the RFP.
At the July 27, 2021 Board of Supervisors meeting (minutes), Chris Lund, Senior Vice President with GBB Solid Waste Management Consultants, led a presentation on the County’s Trash Consolidation Study, which included an overview of the scope of work and a timeline. The study sought to assess the current approach to trash collection and offer solutions that provide responsible, sustainable and economic benefits to the community and the environment. Following the presentation, on Aug. 10, James City County released a news flash, as well as two Facebook posts (Aug. 11 and 17) informing citizens of the upcoming phone survey, and a link to a form on the County’s website, for residents to share their thoughts. WYDAILY published an article on Aug. 11 about the phone survey.
In August 2021, GBB partnered with Shapard Research to conduct a statistically valid telephone survey of County residents about trash collection in the County. The phone survey polled 405 County residents, using demographic questions to ensure representation of residents from different locations and backgrounds that align with census population data. GBB also collaborated with C2Logix, a route optimization solutions company to find the most efficient way to route trucks. At the Nov. 23, 2021 Board of Supervisors meeting (minutes), Chris Lund along with Jennifer Porter, Vice President with GBB presented the findings of the Trash Consolidation Study.
At the July 26, 2022 Board of Supervisors meeting, General Services revisited the Trash Consolidation Study with a presentation to review the proposed options by GBB, ultimately asking the Board for guidance on next steps. The Board unanimously voted to move forward, with the first steps to hire staff to lead this effort.