The ‘Calendar Different’: Late, with blunders

May 2, 2019

A city-funded calendar designed to promote environmental stewardship in Santa Fe may end up in the recycling bin sooner than anyone anticipated.

The nation’s oldest capital city just issued the nation’s most out-of-date calendar.

Not only did the Environmental Services Division mail the 2019 Residential Services Calendar to some 30,000 households four months after the year began, long after most people had already acquired a calendar, but the city’s version contains a number of inaccuracies.

Ironically, it started to arrive in utility customers’ mailboxes the last week in April, almost in time for an erroneously designated trash amnesty day at the Buckman Road Recycling and Transfer Station, also known as BuRRT.

“Environmental Services thanks Santa Fe residents for their understanding [about the errors], and also encourages them to make use of the wealth of information contained in the rest of the calendar regarding events, trash and recycling services, sustainability actions and more,” the city said in a Wednesday news release.

In an interview, division Director Shirlene Sitton said the calendar, the third produced by the city, in previous years was mailed out in November or December. She blamed the delay on staffing shortages as well as purchasing and mailing list issues.

“It’s still a beautiful calendar,” she said, “and it’s full of all kinds of great information. We’re sad that it kind of started off on that note, but we’re real proud of the calendar.”

In explaining why the calendar erroneously marked April 27 as a trash amnesty day, Sitton said a day without dumping fees had been planned on that date, but the city moved it up to April 13 to coincide with a promotion called the Great American Cleanup. The change, however, didn’t make it into the belated calendar.

“We just made an error,” she said. “We feel terrible about that.”

Sitton said some people showed up at the recycling station on the northwest side of town Saturday thinking it was a trash amnesty day.

“We really apologize for that,” she said.

It’s unclear exactly how many people hauled items to discard that day. Randall Kippenbrock, executive director of the Santa Fe Solid Waste Management Agency, which operates BuRRT and the Caja del Rio landfill, did not return a message seeking comment.

The calendar also incorrectly says the city plans to offer Green Waste Amnesty Days at BuRRT every weekend in May. The actual schedule is the first Saturday and Sunday of May and June.

Though utility customers didn’t receive the calendar until late April, Sitton said it is still useful.

“We were short-staffed and had some hiccups this year, but we feel like there’s plenty of year left,” she said. “We want people to use it as a resource when they can’t remember what goes in their cart or what phone number to call, things like that. It’s still meant to be a basic information piece about solid waste services.”

Sitton said she kept the city’s Public Utilities Committee in the loop about the calendar’s release date.

“We were just laughingly calling it the ‘Calendar Different,’ ” she said, referring to Santa Fe’s nickname as the City Different.

Producing and mailing the calendar cost an estimated $28,000, she said. The division funded the effort with revenue from the 10-cent fee that supermarkets collect for providing customers with a paper bag, she said.

“The funds we get from the paper bag fee are dedicated to waste reduction activities and public information for waste reduction, which is what this is,” she said.

Sitton said the division plans to produce a 2020 calendar.

“We’re already starting on next year’s calendar,” she said, promising, “It will be mailed on time.”

Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter @danieljchacon.