Information Regarding the Status of the City Refuse Program
February 10, 2022
A note from the City Manager
It recently became apparent that we are experiencing worrisome cost overruns in the City refuse
department. Upon further examination it became clear that our current operational model has become excessively
costly, a situation that must be addressed. In an effort to remain accountable to the taxpayers I informed the City
Council of the problem. My plan remains to fully examine the problem and gather additional facts and information.
This will help us better understand how to resolve this issue and develop reasonable proposed solutions that can be
decided upon at a later date by our City Council.
One of the possible solutions is to outsource the program. However, whether or not outsourcing occurs, at
the very least it is necessary to get cost estimates from the private sector so we have a financial benchmark to work
from. Nothing has been decided, and no action has been taken by anyone. In an effort to address community
concerns regarding this matter I have prepared the following information that I hope will be informative:
• Who raised this issue?
Answer: City Manager Drew Sanders brought it to the attention of the City Council, and then made a good
faith effort to notify potentially affected staff members in order to treat them honorably and fairly. My
concern was that employees may hear about work in progress to address this problem through different
channels and feel a sense of betrayal from the organization. Nothing more has occurred with this issue.
This is about trying to do the right thing. This is a difficult circumstance wherein we as a City government
have a duty to address problems when we find them, and balance the needs of both employees and
taxpayers, a balance that is often very difficult to strike.
• What is the problem?
The problem involves a totality of various financial circumstances that have combined to become very
1. In 2021, actual expenses exceeded revenues by nearly $170,000
2. We have an aging fleet that requires extensive repair work. The reality is we need to purchase at least
two replacement refuse trucks at a cost in excess of $500,000
3. The cost for our shop fund is increasing annually, much of which is due to repairs required by our
aging refuse fleet (although replacement trucks would help ease this problem)
4. Refuse disposal work is a physical and dangerous business, and workplace injuries do occur. We have
experienced a high number of workplace injuries that have resulted in a significant cost increase to our
worker compensation insurance premiums. To be fair, not all injuries occurred in the refuse
department, but this department is a significant contributor to this circumstance
•What has been done so far?
NOTHING beyond identification of the problem,and a commitment to address the issue.We remain
committed to being fiscally accountable to the residents of Cortez and this is a manifestation of that
•Why have the taxpayers not been notified before now?
The short answer is the issue is still being examined and solutions have not been fully identified.
•What are the possible solutions to this issue?
1.Keeping the operation in-house and make considerable changes within the refuse department to make
the program more cost effective
2.Outsourcing to a private entity
•Does this affect the recycling program?
No. This program will remain in place no matter the solution.
•Will a company from outside the area be taking jobs from the Cortez area?
If the City ultimately decides to outsource this service, and a company not based in the Cortez area is the
winning bidder, presumably all of them would be local employees.Also, as part of any outsourcing
agreement, the City would insist that the winning bidder absorb any refuse employees who wish to go.
•Will my rates increase?
No, although slight increases can be expected over time to account for inflation. This will likely occur no
matter the solution.
•Will the City of Cortez retain influence over rates should this service be outsourced?
Yes.The City would negotiate appropriate rates and billing/payments would still run through the City of
Cortez in order to best protect residents.
•Has the City of Cortez “sold” the refuse department?
No. Nothing has occurred beyond identification of the problem.
•Is the City of Cortez still collecting refuse from my home?
Yes. We remain fully operational
City of Cortez
123 Roger Smith Ave.
Cortez, Co. 81321
City Manager Drew Sanders