Archive for Monday, September 20, 2010

Trash talk

City commissioners should be commended for agreeing to examine what could be controversial subjects surrounding the city’s trash service.

September 20, 2010

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It is often not pleasant, but sometimes it is necessary, to sort through the trash.

Essentially, that is what city commissioners recently agreed to do by committing to a full discussion regarding how the city’s trash service operates in the future.

The issue is sure to come with its own sort of gunk and grime.

One of the first points of discussion likely will be whether the city should change how it charges people for trash collection. The idea of implementing a pay-as-you-throw system has been recommended by the city’s Sustainability Advisory Board.

It would be a major change that could require people to put their trash in city-issued containers rather than just standard trash bags or cans. People who couldn’t fit their trash entirely in one container may have to rent another container, increasing their monthly trash bill.

But the idea is worth exploring. The price the city is charged to dump trash at the landfill is increasing. Figuring out how to recycle more and throw away less should be on everyone’s to-do list. Like everything surrounding this trash issue, the details of a new program will determine its success.

A second likely issue will be curbside recycling. Private providers now make it relatively easy to recycle in Lawrence, but talk continues of whether the city should offer its own service. Be prepared for a new wrinkle to be added to that debate — mandatory curbside recycling. Any serious look at the city’s trash system likely will consider whether all residents should be charged for curbside recycling services, regardless of whether they intend to use them or not.

The third issue promises to be the most controversial: privatization. City Commissioner Rob Chestnut rightly asked that the city keep an open mind about turning the city-operated trash service over to a private provider. That is a long ways from saying that the city ultimately should privatize its system. The city’s sanitation crews provide an outstanding service. A city-operated service keeps the system in the hands of elected officials who can easily be held accountable.

But those same elected officials also have a responsibility to be good stewards of the public’s money. If a private company can stretch the city’s dollars further, privatization at least deserves consideration.

City commissioners have done well in agreeing to tackle this odorous chore. Now, they should close their noses, and the rest of us should keep our minds open.

Comments

cowboy 4 years, 11 months ago

this is a typical example of a solution looking for a problem. The city muck mucks have decided they want pay as you throw. It's a done deal folks.

What they have not disclosed is a service by service profit / loss evaluation.

What does the yard waste pickup service cost vs revenue ? What does commercial rolloff service cost versus revenue ? What does the special pickup service cost versus revenue ? What is the cost of the "Go home when done" policy ?

We got a half a$$ed audit here a few months back that left more questions unanswered. Before jumping to any rate increases the city needs to be honest with the public and fully disclose what all the specials are costing us.

I , for one watch the yard waste trucks driving a route most of the year with very few residents putting out waste. But were still running that truck and crew each week burning up gas and labor while wearing our equipment out.

Whats the revenue from the mulch ?

The commercial roll off costs are cheap ! raise em !

Charge for each special pick up , it's still a deal if you don't have to make a run to the dump !

Fix it all and you probably won't have to raise rates.

Katara 4 years, 11 months ago

You know what would be nice regarding the yard waste program?

If they had a number set up that you could call & leave a message on when you had yard waste. The messages could be checked on Monday morning & they could base their route on where yard waste actually needed to be picked up rather than driving the route & running up costs for a small amount of pick ups.

no_thanks 4 years, 11 months ago

First, the outside firm would likely employ the vast majority of sanitation employees. The lines may be thinned, but only because the staffing model was swollen in terms of numbers required to adequately deliver the services. Second, unemployment is paid by employers through payroll taxes. I don't know the status of the unemployment fund balance with the State of Kansas, but that is why it exists. Finally, the argument of protecting jobs in the public sector when those of us in the private sector are at risk is simply irresponsible and irrational thinking.

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