Most city residents only need put out their trash bags and garbage cans once a week beginning next year, under a plan for Monday yard waste collections approved by Lawrence city commissioners Tuesday.
Beginning the first full week of January, sanitation workers will collect trash once a week, either on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.
On Mondays between about March 1 and Dec. 15, sanitation workers also will collect grass clippings and leaves.
Concerned that the public might perceive the change as a decrease in service from twice-weekly trash collections, commissioners tried to cast the change as an "enhancement."
"I don't see this as a reduction of services. I see it as an enhancement," Commissioner Shirley Martin-Smith said. "It's going to take awhile to adjust."
"We're just reshuffling the way we do things," Commissioner Bob Schumm said.
TRASH COLLECTION will continue as usual for residents in high population areas who use dumpsters. Those residents could make special arrangements with the city for yard waste collection.
Yard waste will not be collected on Mondays that fall on holidays or the week of Thanksgiving.
The program will cost the city about the same as the current twice-weekly pickup schedule, said Bob Yoos, city solid waste superintendent.
Once-weekly trash collection would give some slack to sanitation services, stretched almost to the limit by city growth, Yoos said.
"We're so near capacity that we're incurring overtime costs," Yoos said. The department soon would need more trucks and personnel under twice-weekly trash collection, he said.
The change in service also would free up time for employees to work on special projects, such as alley cleanups, tire recycling, and Christmas tree composting.
Yoos also has said the department would need employees to help with a proposed cardboard recycling facility and a household hazardous waste disposal site scheduled to open soon.
"I dare say there won't be anyone working in my department finding themselves with nothing to do," Yoos said.
COMMISSIONERS said the calls they received on the proposed change were split between support and dissent.
"There are a lot of people in the community who have come to expect two trash pickups a week. And there are a lot of people who don't put out grass clippings," Commissioner Bob Walters said.
Yoos said the issue depended on the customer's perspective.
"The people who want to see conservation of resources in the community will see it as an expansion of services," Yoos said.
Schumm boiled the issue down to a need to be more ecologically responsible.
"It's something that's occuring across the world," Schumm said. "It's something we need to make a decision on and stick with it."
The city would compost the yard waste and use the product as mulch or topsoil on city landscaping projects.
Yoos estimated that 7,000 tons of grass clippings and leaves would be composted in the first year of the program about 40 percent of the total waste residents toss out every year.
Commissioners directed staff to implement the plan. They also called for an evaluation of the plan after its first year of operation.