Three new trash trucks could be rolling down alleys in the city of Hays as early as April 1, 2019, if Hays city commissioners approve the purchase.

The three proposed trucks are New Way Sidewinders with Peterbilt cab and chassis for $673,076 from Doonan Peterbilt of Hays, said Jesse Rohr, Director of Public Works for the city. They would replace three existing trash trucks, one of which was recently wrecked. 

“The industry standard for trash trucks is six to eight years,” Rohr said. “We’ve had these for nearly 11 years. The trucks themselves are worn out. They’re in the shop far too much.” 

A recommendation from city staff to buy the trucks is on the agenda for the regular Hays City Commission work session this evening evening at City Hall, 1507 Main St.

It’s not known yet whether trade-in value on the wrecked truck will be salvage or a fully operational truck, Rohr said. The city has an insurance claim in progress for the Aug. 1 wreck, the circumstances of which have mystified Public Works.

During a routine procedure to dump trash at the city’s transfer station north of town, the truck tipped over on the driver’s side, which is on the right side, said Marvin Honas, Solid Waste Division superintendent. 

“It literally went over on its side. Real easy,” Honas said. “It would have been definitely scary.”

Trash is dumped inside the building and a backhoe pushes the trash into semi trailers for trucking it to Garden City to bury. The floor is level concrete. As trash was gradually sliding out the back of the truck, it tipped over.

Honas wondered if it blew a tire or two, had a broken leaf spring or had a structural problem with the frame. But he found nothing.

“This one is kind of a mystery to us,” he said.

Rohr said the trucks have dumped thousands of times over the years and never had an issue like that, so he isn’t worried about a similar problem with the other old trucks.

“It’s maybe like being struck by lightning and worrying about every storm after that,” he said. “I’d be a little more worried if they were brand new trucks.”

If the city commission approves the new trucks, an April delivery is a quick turnaround, he said.

“We’ll be paying cash for these trucks, we have the money in reserves, and they came in $150,000 under budget,” Rohr said.

If new trash trucks are approved, Honas said residents won’t notice a difference, and there won’t be any changes in service.

“The only difference they’ll see is a newer truck,” he said. “The style of the truck is the same.”

The Solid Waste Division of Public Works took delivery last week of a new recycling truck, Honas said.

That new 2019 International recycling truck is slowly being rotated-in to service. Like the city’s other recycling truck, it will sport decals made by Commercial Sign Co., Hays, urging “Reduce, reuse, recycle.”

The city traded in an 18-year-old Mack to buy the new International from Summit Truck Group, Salina, for $168,917. The new recycle truck, and its partner, a two-year-old International, are on a 10-year replacement plan, Honas said.

The city’s three trash trucks and two recycling trucks operate Monday through Friday, rotating through five zones in the city so that everyone’s trash and recycle are picked up once a week by two different trucks on the same day. The trucks collect and dump the trash from the polycarts of 6,800 residential customers in the city limits. Private contractors, Ideal Refuse and Trash-B-Gone, handle commercial pick up. 

The city’s Solid Waste crew picks up close to 4,800 tons of trash a year, and about 1,200 tons of recycle, he said.

Trash volume has increased over the decade, but recycle volume in town hasn’t increased proportionately and seems to have leveled off, Honas said.

There are exceptions, where one blue bag filled with paper and cardboard, and one with a mix of plastic, tin and aluminum, populate the sidewalks.

“Friday is our biggest day for recycling,” Honas said, citing the area that includes the Thunderbird Addition around 41st Street north, where there are a lot of new houses. 

“Take a stroll down there on a Friday morning, and just about every one of the houses up there recycles,” he said. “I guess that generation up there believes in recycling. It is amazing. The reason why it’s so noticeable is it’s all curbside collection. There are no alleys there.”

Hays is unique in Kansas as it’s one of the few cities using the blue-bag pick up for recycling, which the city has done since 1996, and which eliminates the need for residents to haul their own recycling to a central drop-off, Honas said.

The city’s drop-off recycling program at its facility north of town is growing, however. There are three huge baskets for paper and cardboard, and four for the co-mingled items, each of which is dumped every day during the week. A fourth basket for paper and cardboard is being added in the next three weeks.

“We have such a good program, we find the three get filled up on weekends,” he said. “People come from Norton, Hill City Wakeeney. We even have people from Paradise. When they come to Hays to do business they bring their recycling.”

More than 50 businesses also bring their recycling to the facility, Honas said, with Ashley HomeStore number one for cardboard, hauling it in by 38-foot truckloads. Hess Services Inc. and RANS Designs Inc. are also large customers, Honas said.