Bethlehem Residents Support Single Hauler Trash Service If They Will “Realize a Cost Reduction and Improved Service”

I got hold of a copy of the Bethlehem quality of life survey, which I’ve posted down at the bottom. Here is the section pertaining to the hot hot trash collection issue.

Even if you put all the Don’t Know people in the Not Supportive column – and probably it’s more like 50/50 – it only gets you to 36% in opposition to a single trash hauler. Even if you assume that the 9% who are now Somewhat Supportive become Not Supportive when they hear the details of the actual bid on offer, it only gets you to 45% in opposition.

45% is much too large an estimate of the size of the opposition, but even that would not be a large enough opposition coalition to justify members of Council voting against the single trash hauler proposal. Provided the details of the plan satisfy the conditions put to residents – cost reduction and improved service – then the position with the largest number of supporters should win out.

If you want to complain about their methodology, here is Chris Borick’s explanation:

Here are the complete results. Anything interesting jump out? I would’ve thought more people would list tax and budget issues among the most important, but they’re way down on the list. All of people’s top choices for “most important issue” involve wanting more or better public services.

City of Bethlehem Citizen Survey


  1. I’ll say it again. There’s nothing wrong with the “methodology” but the +- 3 percent spread doesn’t mean anything in this survey because its answering a half-vapid question.

    I would have more confidence if they just said “cheaper”–but that’s clearly not enough because “cheaper” could mean “once a month”. Better remains undefined and thus complicates the survey from a policy standpoint. That’s why you have to find a way to find a way to include some sort of sliding cost-benefit scale in your policy analysis. People don’t just say “yes/no” to things–they say “yes, but” or “no, but”.

    Overall, people seem pretty happy–which is nice to see. But they seem to have only been asked about city services, which is perhaps why they didn’t bring up more financial/tax issues.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      “Improved service” seems fine to me. That’s an accurate description of the single hauler plan’s impact on the average resident.

      Also budget and tax issues were available as a choice for survey respondents.

      • If you are making policy or actually running a city (or a service at any level of government) a term like “improved service” most certainly does NOT cut it.

        The key to government service provision, contracted or not, is in the stating of clear REQUIREMENTS. No city (ok, there might be some) would go to a vendor and say, we’ll pay you $300,000 to make things “better”. Those are the contracts that end up in court or on the front page of the newspaper.

        • Jon Geeting says:

          I’m not sure what your point is. Of course the contract will be more detailed than the poll question. Who is saying otherwise? “Improved” is fair for a poll question. I’m not really sure how much more specific you can expect them to get before seeing the bids. If I were an elected official, I wouldn’t want to overpromise or underpromise. They’re already taking a risk throwing out that $300 number. If for some reason that’s too low an estimate, that’s going to come back to bite politicians.


  1. […] Matter for the Bethlehem Trash Debate? Jon Geeting: What Bethlehem Is Promising on Trash Collection Jon Geeting: Bethlehem Residents Support Single Hauler Trash Service If They Will “Realize a Cost Reduction […]

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