The city has big plans to spend big bucks on a yard waste recycling program, but a local entrepreneur says he can do it cheaper.
"I don't see why it's Provo City's responsibility," said Jamie Evans, owner of Blue Ribbon Compost. The company took in its first load of tree branches Wednesday at its composting site on an eastside hill in Utah County between Provo and Springville. Evans said he's put about $20,000 into getting the site prepared for operation."Private enterprise can always beat government work in anything," said Evans' wife, Terry. "We think the citizens would rather pay for it when they need to rather than subsidize it with tax dollars." Blue Ribbon dumping fees range from $2.50 to $18 a load, depending on the size of vehicle.
The city wants to take $200,000 from its capital improvements fund to purchase the equipment to start a composting operation. Costs this year are estimated at $191,550. There would be no charge to residents for dumping yard waste.
The idea is to take things such as grass, leaves, tree limbs and other organic material and turn it into useful material. The facility is to be located near the recently closed city dump in south Provo.
Tom Martin, city chief administrative officer, envisions the facility producing compost to be mixed with sewer sludge to use as fill dirt; mulch to use in landscaped areas; wood chips for park pathways and firewood for resale.
Evans, who has spent the past several months doing a cost analysis of composting facilities, said it will cost the city much more than it anticipates. He said it would be cheaper for the city to buy the materials it's seeking to produce.
He presented his findings to the City Council Tuesday. He also gave the council a $31,500 cashier's check in hopes of landing a contract to provide the service to Provo residents free of charge.
Council Chairman Steve Clark returned the check to Evans.
In going over Evans' figures, Martin said he saw "serious flaws in the analysis."
Council member Ron Last said that philosophically he believesa the private sector should provide the service if it can do it for less than the city. He asked Martin to make a comparison between the city plan and Evans' proposal Last also wants the city administration to work closely with the council on the project.
Martin said he agrees with Last that private enterprise should handle it if it can do it cheaper but, "I'm not convinced that is the case here."
Evans said all he wants is the city to back off on its plan to allow him a chance to see what his company can do. He said he won't be able to compete if the city doesn't charge for its service.
"If they can do it cheaper they should run me out of business. If I can do it cheaper I should run them out of business," he said.