Going with a single hauler will mean a bunch of small trash hauling businesses will fail, but that’s no reason to sustain a trash collection market design where Bethlehem residents are getting badly ripped off. A couple dozen people would be out of work, but even more people are out of work because of all the public sector layoffs. Life in the age of local government austerity is hard and unfortunately has required some layoffs. What people need to figure out is how to cut payments to service providers without harming service delivery. In the case of the trash haulers, this is very obvious. It’s a rare case where you can spend less money and get better service.
The bottom line is that the number of people who would lose out by these trash haulers going out of business is far smaller than the number of people who would benefit from cheaper and better garbage service. Life goes on.
A city council members’ job is to pick the market design that gives residents the lowest cost and highest quality trash collection service. This is a situation where everybody can get a better deal if they pool their money, via city government, to pay a single hauler.
There’s no debating the merits here. We know that service is better and cheaper in municipalities with a single hauler. The only question is whether city council members will do the right thing and win the cash savings for residents even if trash haulers, predictably, get a couple hundred people to go to a meeting and complain. It doesn’t stop being a good idea just because a couple hundred people want to yell at you about it.
Be like Palmer. Figure out what’s actually the best deal, and then do it.