Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Of Snow, Trash Bags, and the DPW

At the Common Council Public Works Committee meeting tonight, Rob Perry, DPW superintendent, revealed how much Winter Storm Stella cost the City: just shy of $37,000. Perry told the committee that Columbia County would be seeking FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) reimbursement for expenses incurred as a consequence of the storm, and for that purpose Perry created the following chart.

According to Perry, what FEMA will reimburse, if indeed it reimburses anything, will be the cost of equipment usage, which totals $28,265. What the City must absorb is the cost of overtime, private haulers, salt, and fuel, which totals $36,993.

On the topic of Stella, it was snow that prevented the City from taking possession of the trash bag vending machine soon to grace the facade of the classic 1907 bank building that is City Hall. It's all set and ready to be delivered, so expect it to appear soon.

To address the question of the lost jobs of the three people employed by the City to sell the bags during regular hours at City Hall, Perry prepared the following chart to show how the cost of employing the trash bag sellers has increased since 2010 and is expected to increase in the future.

Perry explained that in the past a large percentage of the trash bag sellers' wage was paid by other entities--various not-for-profits. The City's share of their hourly wage was only two or three dollars. In the past decade, Perry said, "One by one, the other entities fell off," and the cost to the City of employing these workers doubled. Perry told the committee that the sale of trash bags generates $100,000 a year, income meant to offset the cost of owning and operating the garbage truck(s). In 2010, the cost of employing people to sell those bags represented 10 percent of that income. Today, it is closer to 20 percent, and it is anticipated to be almost 30 percent five years from now. Enter the trash bag vending machine, which has the added benefit of being available 24/7 and able to accept cash, credit cards, debit cards, and Apple Pay.


  1. Instead of putting the ugly machine in front of City Hall, it should be put in front of the new police station on Union Street. I note that there is a soda machine in the lobby of the old police station on Warren Street.

  2. How does the placement of this machine square with the historic district regulations. Can anyone on Warren Street put a vending machine in front of their business? Who authorized this placement?

  3. Truly there must be s better location than on the sidewalk in the center of Hudsons Historic District in front of our handsome marble Historic City Hall ... !?

  4. Why not behind City Hall under that roof extension out of the weather ?!