GREEN RIVER — The deed is done. The decision to privatize the City’s Solid Waste Division has been a long time coming and the fate of the city employees has been the source of anxiety for some time. The fate of solid waste and the city employees was decided Tuesday.
The Green River City Council voted to implement a voluntary severance program for employees impacted by the privatization of the city’s Solid Waste Division, which the council also voted to proceed with during the November 7 meeting.
“It’s been really hard. I hate to see anybody lose their job, but maybe there’s going to be a silver lining in this,” Councilman Gary Killpack said.
“The Wyoming Waste Company has shown some interest in the employees of the city, so that’s a positive thing. I know every councilperson here has cared very much for every city employee and it’s been a hard decision.”
Severance Package Details
Full-time employees will receive a lump sum payment equal to the amount of 28 weeks of pay at the employee’s base hourly rate (calculated on 40 hours per week).
Part-time employees will receive a lump sum payment equal to one-third of the employee’s actual wages earned in the Solid Waste Division from November 1, 2016, through October 31, 2017.
Staff impact will be a maximum of nine full-time and three part-time employees who are eligible to participate in the program, based on the eligibility criteria.
Employees taking advantage of the offer will need to sign a waiver and release agreement with the City of Green River.
“This has been a tough thing to do here. We’ve been around and around with, what can we do, what can we not do. We’ve worked hard on this,” Councilman Allan Wilson said. “We sent them back to the drawing board several times. There wasn’t going to be much there at the beginning. It was a hard decision to make.”
Councilmen Wilson and Killpack wanted to clear the air of any rumors that may have started concerning the Solid Waste Division decisions. Councilman Gary Killpack wanted to clarify that there has not been any private meetings concerning these decisions.
Wilson also wanted to clarify that the transfer station station was built for the citizens of Green River. Plans to switch to a transfer station was in the city’s plans long before there was any agreement with Wyoming Waste, Wilson said. Killpack echoed his statement.
Positive Look for Citizens
“I wish all of our employees well,” Councilperson Lisa Maes said. “It was really an anxiety thing, but I am looking forward to the citizens not having to pay a big fee. It’s been a huge dilemma.”
A switch to a private solid waste company means a monthly garbage bill for the city’s citizens but is still a cheaper fee than would’ve been if the Solid Waste Division had stayed city-owned.
Mayor Pete Rust said the fee for citizens will be $31.50 for basic services from Wyoming Waste. City Finance Director Chris Meats said the city would have charged the citizens $41-$43 per month.
Wyoming Waste will also provide additional benefits for citizens using their services such as multiple containers for solid waste, recyclables, and green waste.
Residents paying for garbage service will also be able to take 1,800 lbs of garbage to the city’s transfer station each year.
The city will also receive a yearly franchise fee from Wyoming Waste Systems for use of the city’s transfer station.
“I think it’s a good agreement,” Councilman Gary Killpack said about the city’s contract.
“I think the city employees did a great job. It was a horrible decision that we had to go through, but we kept the city employees in the forefront. They might not think so,” Mayor Rust said.
“I understand how they feel, but we did the best that we could to constantly keep in mind what we could do to help them and at the same time, save however many households that use and keeping the fees down.
“This is probably the quietest council meeting I’ve been to as far as myself. In my closing comments, I guess I leave with a heavy heart. Tonight’s been kind of tough for me. We’ve cracked some jokes and stuff, but this has been the toughest meeting I’ve been to,” Councilman Robert Berg said.
“For the sake of the employees for Solid Waste, and citizens of Green River, that never did we forget about those employees at solid waste when we were in these talks. They were at the forefront of our mind for all of us. Without that severance package, this would’ve never happened.”