Denison city officials are giving more details about the transition from traditional solid waste pickup to a new automated system. The Denison City Council voted earlier this month to approve several changes to the city’s ordinance to set the stage for the April 1 change over.


The change in ordinance sets guidelines for how much trash can be put out for pickup and also set the schedule for the new expanded brush and bulk pickup services that will come with the transition.


“This is wonderful that we are bringing our trash pickup into the 21st century,” Denison Mayor Janet Gott said Tuesday. “Thank you to everyone who put so much work into this. I know we are going to go through some learning curves, but we will get there.”


The decision to move to an automated service using specially designed claw trucks was originally discussed in mid-2018 during the council’s annual budget retreat. The move will put Denison in line with other cities in the region that have since changed to automated pickup.


The discussions followed an evaluation of the city’s waste collection by consultants who concluded Denison could offer residents more service for what it collects in fees.


Starting in April, the city will use trucks equipped with a robotic arm to pick up trash and unload it from above. This will allow the city to better allocate human resources and put workers that were previously used for manual collection to other duties, officials said.


Previously, residents were able to put out up to 20 bags of trash each week as part of residential trash collection. With the new system, residents will be limited to what can fit within the new 95-gallon carts that will be used for waste collection. Residents will be able to purchase a second cart at a cost of $20 per month.


Earlier this month, the council approved a resolution allowing Denison to purchase the 9,000 new trash carts for the service at a price of about $500,000. The city has also purchased three new garbage trucks at an expense of about $1 million.


Asst. Public Works Director Carrie Jones said the carts are expected to be delivered by March 11 and will be distributed to residents over the following two to three weeks.


With workers freed up from regular garbage collection, Denison is proposing an increase in its brush and bulk waste disposal services. Under the previous schedules, the city would allow for quarterly brush and yearly bulk waste disposal, however the new plan will allow alternating pickup of each, six times a year.


Under this plan, Jones said residents would be able to leave out two cubic yards of bulk waste during their designated week of the month, and then brush collection would occur the same way the next month.


Residents will also be able to call the city to schedule a special collection for excess brush or bulk that exceeds set limits or when it is outside of the regular times at a rate of $40 per cubic yard.


The changes are not expected to affect the city’s recycling collection or its residential collection station. Consultants with the city initially debated whether the station, which allows residents with a water bill to dispose of excess waste for free, would still be needed once services were expanded.


Jones said the city will hold five public meetings in February to meet with residents to answer any questions about the new services. The new carts and one of the new garbage trucks will on display during the meetings, Jones said.