Four Arvada city council members facing recalls over trash collection

ARVADA, Colorado. – Almost every day in Arvada, a garbage truck will likely drive through the neighborhoods.

Unlike areas like Denver, Arvada doesn’t have a city-wide rubbish collection program. Hence, for decades, homeowners and neighborhoods have been responsible for finding their own transportation services.

What is the stink of the garbage service?

There are currently around a dozen waste companies serving the residents of Arvada, which means that garbage trucks appear in the neighborhood almost every day.

“It seems inefficient. We have garbage trucks on our streets six days a week. Some streets have between nine and twelve trucks, ”said Lauren Simpson, District 2 city council member.

For years the city council has been debating the question of a city-wide garbage service. A survey from 2017 found that 60% of respondents supported the idea.

In 2019, the city council decided to put the issue on the ballot so that voters could decide. However, three months before the November elections, the Council unanimously voted to remove the issue of garbage disposal from the vote in order to work more on the issue.

Last month the council voted four to three to approve an ordinance and a new contract with Republic Services for citywide garbage collection.

Proponents of the idea say the move will reduce air pollution and road repairs.

“These trucks weigh five times as much as delivery trucks and cause significant damage on the roads,” said Simpson.

Councilor Bob Fifer also views the amount of garbage trucks in the area as a safety concern in areas with young children. There is also a problem with the optics.

“People just said, ‘Hey, I want all of our trash cans to be out one day and I want them all back at the same time,” said Fifer.

However, opponents of the idea say the move will drive out competition and raise prices for residents.

Dave Palm has been an Arvada resident for more than 57 years and one of the organizers of a recall petition against the four city council members who voted for the move.

“The city gives Republic Services a contracted monopoly,” Palm said. “They are basically taking away our voting rights.”

He believes that the issue should be put on the ballot so that voters can decide.

Fifer says the issue never made it into the vote because the city council decided it was too complex.

“It took me 18 months to understand the complexities of how we start it, how much it costs, what impact it will have, and how much it will be sustained,” said Fifer. “I think it’s difficult to put a couple of sentences or paragraphs on a ballot to explain something and that depth.”

Palm disagrees and doesn’t think the city council pays enough credit to the people of Arvada.

“This is about a situation where the city council has decided that citizens are not smart enough to make the decision themselves,” he said.

There is an opt-out option for residents who like their current debt collection services, but it comes with a monthly fee of $ 5.13.

“Five dollars a month to check out, and that five dollars go to the Republic to keep from stopping at your home,” Palm said.

Simpson says opt-out fees for city-wide garbage collection services are common across the country, and that $ 5.13 fee is the lowest in the region.

Even after logging out, residents would still have the opportunity to hand in bulk goods to Republic Services and take part in composting events.

Palm and those who oppose the change don’t believe they have to pay for a service they don’t get.

Recall efforts

As a result of the vote, all four city council members who voted for the unified garbage collection service are now faced with recall efforts. The recalled members are Councilors Lauren Simpson, Bob Fifer, Nancy Ford, and Mayor Pro Tem Dot Miller.

Palm and groups like Recall Arvada are working to collect thousands of signatures by the end of August to force a recall vote.

He had considered the idea of ​​starting a petition for a referendum, but says it is more difficult to take part in the vote.

“It takes a lot less petition signatures to change people than it does to change the law,” said Palm.

None of the city council members faced with recall requests will stand for election in November.

Simpson is still relatively new; She was elected to office only last November and says a recall petition eight months into her term was daunting.

“It honestly confuses me a little and when I’m really honest it hurts,” she said. “Recalls should be made because of misconduct, corruption, abuse of office or breach of duty.” They are not intended for political disagreement and they are not intended for political motivations. “

The recall requests had been withdrawn before the final vote on garbage disposal on June 15.

The subject of citywide garbage collection is so controversial that Simpson says she received an anonymous threat.

The threat came in the form of an email Simpson shared with Denver7 on June 8.

It read in part, “Should you decide that it is your right to choose how we live our lives and who to do business with, you can be assured that this is likely to be the last. The residents of our great city will not tolerate your democratic-socialist agenda. “

Simpson replied to the email explaining her position and recall requests were made the next day.

Fifer also believes the recall petition is going too far.

Politics today are not the friendliest in any setting and seem extreme on an issue like individual garbage transportation, ”he said. “I think it’s an abuse of the recall process and I think there are other ways to remove people, just to vote … to get out and vote.”

An open letter to the residents of Arvada from 16 current and former lawmakers at the federal, state and local levels also denounced the recalls.

The petitioners have until the last week of August to collect and submit signatures. If they collect enough valid signatures, the recall efforts will be directed to voters.

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