The scent of change for Lawrence’s trash system is beginning to fill the air at Lawrence City Hall.
City commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting directed a city-appointed advisory board to begin studying ways to get feedback from the public on new types of trash rates that would charge residents based on how much trash they throw away.
Commissioners also directed the city’s Sustainability Advisory Board and staff members to work on a plan to create a new marketing plan that would make Lawrence residents more aware of private companies that offer curbside recycling services in the city.
“If we’re going to talk about the importance of recycling, we really need to discuss waste reduction first,” said Commissioner Mike Dever. “The only real way to get at waste reduction is to charge people for what they throw away.”
The details of such a system weren’t discussed Tuesday, but other communities have done everything from requiring residents to use special containers to limiting the number of trash cans or bags that can be set out each week.
Mayor Rob Chestnut said he thinks the time is coming for Lawrence residents to start weighing in about the idea.
“I know we’ll have contrasting opinions in the community about doing a system like that,” Chestnut said. “It would be a pretty significant move.”
Members of the Sustainability Advisory Board in the coming months will work on ways to gather feedback from residents about various pay-as-you-throw options.
The board will be doing that at the same time several other trash issues are studied. In addition to the rate question, commissioners directed the board and staff members to:
• Create an implementation plan for a marketing program that would get the word out that several private companies currently offer curbside recycling services in Lawrence. Commissioners on Tuesday said they were interested in the program — depending on its costs — but also said they wanted to study whether private curbside recyclers should be required to apply for some sort of license to operate in the city.
• Gather more data on how much an incentive program in the city’s solid waste division is costing the city. The program allows trash crews to work less than an eight-hour day but still receive pay for eight hours, if they complete their routes early and to the satisfaction of supervisors.
• Evaluate how the solid waste division pays for overtime. The division currently pays many employees OT for each day they work more than eight hours, regardless of whether they work more than 40 hours in a week.
In other city business, commissioners:
• Deferred action on a new set of regulations related to boarding houses in the Oread Neighborhood and other areas of town. After more than an hour’s worth of comment, commissioners sent the item back to the Planning Commission for more discussion.