Warsaw took delivery of our new automated trash truck this week.
While we are very excited about the new residential garbage program starting this spring, we also know it will be a change and adjustment for everyone. To keep residents informed of the changes they can expect, this and several future columns will be devoted to frequently asked questions about the new program.
• When will the new program begin?
The city will issue new garbage totes in late April to current residential users. (If you have not already turned in a yellow tag with your tote size preference, you may call the Street Department at 574-372-9561 and make your request over the phone.) Automated garbage pickup is scheduled to begin in early May. Initially, your pickup day will remain the same.  Your recycling pickup day will not change either.
• What size tote should I get?
Recycling is the first step to minimizing your garbage volume. If you are not recycling, call the street department and we will help you get started.
Only trash contained inside of the tote can be automatically dumped into the truck. I would default to the larger 96-gallon size garbage tote if you are unsure.  Smaller households of one or two members who recycle may be fine using the smaller 64-gallon size. Both tote sizes are on wheels, but the smaller size may be easier for some people to manage.
Bagging the trash will still be required to keep loose trash from spilling out. We will continue to pick up larger items in a separate truck. The current rules for what larger items we pick up remain the same.
• Where do I put my trash and recycling for pickup?
The majority of our residents who currently put their trash and recycling at the curbside will continue to do so. Pickup location will not change for them. If your trash and recycling is currently picked up in the alleyway, you will now need to put it curbside either in the front of your house or at the closest side street. The new 96- and 64-gallon trash totes have very sturdy wheels and are easy to maneuver. We ask that you begin to plan now to use the closest and most convenient curbside location available. We would be glad to help you find a curbside location for your trash and recycling.
• Why is the city making these changes?
While there are many reasons, the primary reason is cost containment. Almost three-quarters of communities in Indiana charge their residents an average fee of $14 a month to collect trash. Warsaw does not charge a trash collection fee.  Trash removal expense in our city is taken from property tax revenue. As property tax revenue has not kept up with inflation, rising trash collection costs are among many city services that continue to burden the general fund. Instead of increasing our property tax revenues or considering a trash fee, however, we have chosen to reduce our costs with technology. It is critical that we do something.
The new totes are now on display at City Hall. Our new trash truck and totes will be on display at the March, April and May First Fridays.
I appreciate your patience and cooperation as we ask you to help make these changes. I know they will be good for the community.