Crossett considering one-arm bandit garbage system

Crossett Mayor Crystal Marshall said she anticipates taking a proposal to the city council to purchase an automated side-loading garbage truck — also known as a one-arm bandit — in the near future. If the city purchases the system, which will be similar to the one pictured, it will free up sanitation workers to do other jobs on the four days a week garbage pickup is done, she said, resulting in greater efficiency. (PHOTO FROM HEIL.COM/Screenshot)

A bandit may be coming to the City of Crossett, and that bandit may be coming at the behest of the city administration.

The Crossett City Council heard Monday from representatives of River City Hydraulics about the costs and benefits of switching the city’s garbage pickup from the traditional back-end loading trucks to a truck with a boom arm — a so-called “one-arm bandit.”

Mayor Crystal Marshall said that moving to the one-arm bandit system would ultimately streamline the residential garbage pickup process, and would lead to better worker efficiency because — instead of needing a crew of six to pick up garbage — one worker could run the system.

“We would go from needing six people four days a week to one person four days a week to do the pickup,” Marshall said Tuesday. “You might not get a financial benefit, but you are going to get efficiency.”

The reason that there might not be a financial benefit is that the one-arm bandit system would cost as much as the two trucks the city has in use now. The city may, however, be able to trade the two trucks, which are lease vehicles, for the bandit system, Marshall said.

Since the other workers would be freed up from garbage pickup, they will be available for many other projects around the city that need to be done, she said.

“Right now, the only way to do that would be hiring people, and that is a long-term cost,” Marshall said.

If the one-arm bandit plan moves forward, residents will have to switch out their garbage cans for collection cans designed for the truck to pick up. The mayor said the cans are heavy duty and hold approximately 96 gallons.

The deployment of the new bins would be the single largest cost of the project to the city at approximately $180,000 to cover each residence with one can. Purchased individually, the cans would cost approximately $65. All of the cans have a bar code and a serial number to identify which residence they belong to.

This isn’t the first time the one-arm bandit solution has been discussed, but in the past sudden changes in anticipated city revenue prompted a delay. At one time, the city council had authorized the public works department to move toward implementing the system, but the plan was halted because the city did not know what revenue would look like in light of the partial closure of GP’s paper operations in 2019.

The difference is that now the city has funds allocated by the American Rescue Act that can likely be applied to overhauling the garbage program, Marshall said.

The mayor said she plans to take a proposal to the city council in the near future, and if it is approved the city will begin an advertising and communication campaign in an effort to communicate to all of the city’s residents what the change will mean for them.

“Our intention is to provide a better level of service for our community,” she said.

Also during the Monday meeting, which was the council’s regularly scheduled meeting for August, the council officially adopted a resolution setting the Juneteenth holiday as an observance included in the city employee handbook.

The council had already given its approval for the idea shortly after the U.S. government recognized the Juneteenth celebration as a federal holiday. Monday’s vote formalized that approval.

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