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Administration and Staffing

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Communities implementing pay-as-you-throw need to consider whether their new program will change their staffing and administrative needs in any way. Some communities will be able to adopt the new program using existing employees and resources. Others may have to implement new accounting systems or add staff to handle the changes.

Planners often begin by carefully assessing the resources they will need to administer pay-as-you-throw (PAYT). Depending upon the scope of the new program, some municipalities will need to make few changes in the way they administer their solid waste collection services. For example, many smaller communities often rely on overtime hours from existing employees to implement the new program.

In some cases, switching to PAYT can result in administrative cost savings. Typically, communities are already performing many of the tasks needed to implement the new program (for example, public education and outreach). Planners can take the opportunity to introduce new, more efficient work patterns in these areas.

In other communities, new administrative and accountingImage of woman at computer systems may be required, along with the staff to handle changes in billing, tracking costs and revenues, managing operations, and maintaining customer relations. Some larger communities, or those planning more complicated PAYT systems, have found it worthwhile to hire analytical, financial, and customer service staff to handle both the transitional and ongoing requirements of the program. Additional temporary staff and outside expertise have helped to ease the implementation of PAYT in some cases.

Transforming a solid waste agency into an efficient team capable of handling its new responsibilities requires:

Planners often break down any needed administrative changes into a series of steps with clear objectives for each. Communities instituting PAYT typically recommend that these changes be scheduled to take place 3 to 6 months before program implementation.

The first step is to define the new responsibilities for the established program. These can include public education and outreach, customer service, operation of complementary programs, monitoring and evaluation, enforcement, establishing a rate structure for the program, and billing to collect revenues. Communities with PAYT usually try to assemble an administrative team with the required expertise, changing staff members’ responsibilities as needed.

Managing these new functions requires the agency to have expertise in:

In particular, communities implementing PAYT will need to consider how they will administer their rate structure design. Administrative staff will be operating a revenue recovery system that will need to pay (partially or entirely) for the work of the solid waste agency, rather than simply spending the agency’s budget. This brings additional responsibility for proper pricing and ongoing management of the program’s finances.

Container choices also may affect the level of administrative and staffing changes required. For example, the potential time and costs associated with administering a bag-based program (under which the bags may be sold directly to residents through retailers or at municipal offices) may be less significant than a subscription can program requiring planners to bill residents for trash services. There are tradeoffs with any option, however: bag-based programs often require staff time to purchase, store, and sell bags directly or to work with retailers that will be selling them.

Finally, communities with PAYT often recommend that planners prepare existing administrative staff for the changes that will take place under this waste management approach. Emphasizing the positive aspects of the new program can be a good strategy. For solid waste agencies, PAYT involves a reorientation away from traditional collection and disposal services. In its place, the emphasis will be on environmentally preferable practices, including waste prevention, recycling, and composting. The new program also may offer employees opportunities for staff training and development in new areas, such as public relations, financing, and education and outreach.

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For answers to questions about staffing and administration issues, visit administration and staffing in the Frequent Questions section of this Web site.

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