GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Tuesday morning, Grand Rapids Public Services Department said that its “Pay-As-You-Throw” Refuse Program lost $2 million in its first year of operation.
At a commission meeting, the department asked city officials for a $2 million loan (with 2% interest) to help it stay afloat. The loan would be paid back over 5 years. Commissioners Rosalyn Bliss and Dave Shaffer asked public services director James Hurt why the city should loan more money after the loss.
Hurt replied, “If you recall, we didn’t start until September , and it took several months to really start moderating the program. And it hasn’t been until recently when things started to stabilize.”
“So that first year, we had expended the capital expense. We had operational expenses, but the revenue just wasn’t coming in. And we underestimated how the behavior of our customers was going to be,” he added.
Hurt said 61% of refuse customers are putting their garbage dumpsters out by the curb every week.
“[On] all accounts the program is running the way it’s supposed to run. We’re achieving… the expenses are right in line with where we thought they would be. We just fell short on the revenue projection,” Hurt explained.
Hurt proposed a number of changes to the program including cutting daily routes, cutting 10 positions, and increasing ‘dumpster tip’ fees by $1.00 per cart size.
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