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Waste contract debate in Merton town

 Town of Merton - Despite a roomful of opponents to the idea, the Town Board voted tonight to begin negotiations on what could become the town's first municipal waste collection contract.

The town is one of three municipalities remaining in Waukesha County that does not contract for municipal waste collection and most of the nearly three dozen residents who showed up at Town Hall in North Lake indicated they wanted to keep it that way.

However, town officials say there is the potential to reduce homeowners' waste collection costs and increase town revenues if they can negotiate a contract through a county government cooridinated bidding program.

Town Chairman Richard Morris said the board may be able to select from two or three waste haulers who can best meet town resident's needs at lower prices.

The new services could increase the amount of waste collected, reduce collection costs, and increase town revenues, according to Clerk Susan Oman.

However, the town officials have refused to divulge the cost or details of the proposals they have received.

Waukesha County officials who solicited the proposals on behalf of 20 municipalities have urged the local governments not to reveal details of the proposal until they have reached agreements with the waste companies.

Supervisor Mark Lichte assured residents that there would be public information meetings before a decision on whether to accept a contract was made.

"If it doesn't make sense, we won't do it," Supervisor Don Herrick said after the meeting.

But the eight town residents who spoke against the idea expressed fears they would lose the individual services they receive through private contracts and they would have to pay more for garbage and recycle waste services.

Some of those residents own a lake home and an inland home in the town and rely on one collection service for both homes. They said with a municipal contract they would probably have to pay for collection at both residents.

Some senior citizens and a representative of a condo association were concerned they would lose their senior and group rate discounts.

Others argued that a municipal waste contract was another form of government interfering with their daily lives and they would rather be responsible for their own trash.

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