Has your village saved you money? Bayside has for its residents.
Going green and saving taxpayer dollars despite the economic downturn has snagged the the Innovative Response to Tough Budget Times Award.
"As government and government employes, it hasn’t been the easiest time as of late with all the anti-governmental sentiment," Bayside Village Manager Andy Pederson said. "This truly recognizes some of the things governments are doing in a positive manner to maintain costs and maintain service as well."
The award was presented by the Public Policy Forum, a nonpartisan group that conducts policy research on a wide range of issues impacting Wisconsin. It presented seven municipalities and individuals with these honors in its 19th annual Salute to Local Governments.
“Local governments are still reeling from the double whammy of plunging property values and sales tax revenues, and many will soon be facing significant losses of state aids,” Rob Henken, Forum president, said in a press release. “It’s particularly appropriate to honor government leaders who respond effectively to such fiscal challenges.”
The two areas of focus for the Forum when considering Bayside were the village’s efforts to reduce energy consumption, which led to a 39 percent reduction in energy costs over the last three years; and the savings from switching to curbside garbage pickup, which produced a savings of nearly $97,000 in 2010.
By switching to curbside pickup, Pederson said that there have been no garbage pickup work-related injuries since the switch, and more homes can be done in a much shorter time.
"I know there’s people who would prefer their garbage to be picked up at the top of their drive, but from the employees' perspective, they were lifting up to 50-gallon containers, dumping into those little carts 250 times a day. That’s strenuous, difficult and leads to injury," Pederson said.
But it's not just injuries, it's time. The village can now pick up nearly four times the amount of garbage it was able to before.
"We can do 800 homes a day now, maybe one guy would have done 250 or so in a day before," he said. "It used to take us one minute, 32 seconds to collect garbage. Now, we’re down to 30 seconds per house."
Pederson said it's more than just curbside pickup, though. Bayside has hosted a few each year, where residents can bring things not normally easy to get rid of, like paint or televisions. He says that those days have been a huge success because some items previously thrown away can be recycled, .
"The biggest thing is we’re getting what was thrown away in a landfill, now in the appropriate place. This really balances out the environmental responsibility and being fiscally sound at the same time," Pederson said.
What does that mean for residents?
The savings get passed on. Pederson said that if the village dumps one ton of garbage into the landfill, it costs $50 for that single ton. If that's dropped off at the recycling station, the village is not charged for anything. Depending on the market, Bayside might even see a return.
"If we save $38,000, that's equivalent to repaving a street," Pederson said.
"This helps us to reallocate our resources. It’s a win win for everybody," Pederson said.