The ongoing inability for the city’s solid waste division to operate in the black is cause for concern, and an audit of the division raises some issues worth considering.
However, as they consider efforts to “reform” the city’s trash collection operation, city officials should be careful not to mess up what many Lawrence residents think is a pretty good service.
It could be argued that the trash department currently is too accommodating to people who don’t put their trash out in appropriate containers. However, forcing everyone to use the large containers that can be dumped by automated trash trucks may subtly encourage households to throw out more trash rather than limiting their output to a more reasonably sized container. The large containers also are difficult for many homeowners to store inside, creating a potential eyesore in the city.
It’s also not a bad idea to look at the policy that allows workers to leave early if they’ve completed their routes, but the policy seems like a significant perk for a pretty nasty job — not to mention the incentive it provides to get routes picked up more quickly.
Charging residents according to how much trash they put out sounds like a way to raise money for the city while encouraging people to recycle more, but policing such a plan might cost more than it raises.
Improvements probably can be made that reduce trash collection costs or encourage more recycling, but the city should be careful not to take actions that could reduce the level of service the solid waste division currently provides.