Cleveland Heights, Ohio, considers switch to automated waste and recycling collection

Cleveland Heights, Ohio, considers switch to automated waste and recycling collection

With a $4.3 million loan through the Ohio Water Development Authority, the city hopes to purchase more than 29,000 carts, nine new trucks and five trailers and to upgrade the city's transfer station.

November 4, 2020

A proposed switch to automated refuse and recycling collection has received some preliminary backing from the Cleveland Heights, Ohio, City Council, including a nearly $5 monthly sanitation fee increase next spring, reports

Under the plan, more annual rate adjustments would follow over 14 years, with the initial increase to be around $16 per month coming in April 2021. Another $5 and change would be added in smaller annual increments after that, eventually taking the current rate of $11.50 up to $21.55 per month.

“Our equipment is in such a condition of disrepair that even if the city chose not to automate, there is no way we could continue our operations” with the state of the current fleet, City Public Works Director Collette Clinkscale told council at its Oct. 26 Committee-of-the-Whole meeting, reports.

According to, Clinkscale noted that the city’s garbage trucks and trash haulers are in such bad shape right now that they often can’t make the 80-mile trip to the Rumpke landfill in Shiloh, Ohio, where the charge is about $15 per ton. They instead travel to the company’s dump, which is closer but charges $33 per ton.

The additional funding would provide the wherewithal for a $4.3 million loan through the Ohio Water Development Authority (OWDA) to buy the needed equipment. This includes more than 29,000 carts—one each for trash and recyclables to the city’s 14,531 customers—and nine new trucks, five trailers and to upgrade a city transfer station.

To pay the OWDA loan back, “the revenue is going to have to come from households in the community,” Acting City Manager Susanna Niermann O’Neil told council, adding that instead of instituting the initial sanitation fee increase at the start of the coming new year, officials also wanted to give residents “some lead time that their bill will be going up.”

As currently proposed, that won’t be until their second quarterly bill arrives around April 1, 2021, when the increase is expected to be $4.67, taking the household refuse and recycling fee from $11.50 to $16.17 per month.

In the second year, there would be an additional 31-cent increase, up to $16.48 per month, though city officials noted that the homestead exemption will remain considerably lower than that.

Clinkscale said she planned to apply for the OWDA loan as soon as legislation was prepared and approved by council. She added that it generally takes about six months for trucks to arrive once they are ordered and that she remains hopeful that the new system could be up and running by the end of 2021.