Talk trash and do it fast.
Those are expected to be the marching orders for a new city task force that will consider major changes to the city’s trash and recycling programs.
“This is a task force that will be in a hurry,” said City Commissioner Aron Cromwell, who hopes to be appointed as the chair of the new task force.
City commissioners are expected to formally create the task force at their meeting today. Cromwell said its work needs to be completed by May 15 in order to give city commissioners a chance to include any recommended changes in the 2012 budget, which will be crafted this summer.
As for what those changes may be, they could be significant, including everything from new, automated trucks to turning over the city-operated system to a private contractor.
Cromwell said the task force will look at all options, including privatization.
“That’s going to be looked at for sure,” Cromwell said. “To be perfectly honest, I have reservations about privatization going into this, but I want to get the information.”
Other issues that could be discussed by the task force include:
• Automation. Currently, most city trash trucks operate with a three-person crew. But there are truck systems that use automated arms or special lifts that could cut the crew size to one or two people. But those systems likely would require customers to use special plastic carts instead of traditional cans or bags. Staff members also have cautioned it could require changes in on-street parking availability for some neighborhoods.
• Rate changes. Several communities — especially those that require carts — are changing their rates to charge people based on how much trash they throw away. For example, people could rent a 35-gallon, 65-gallon or 95-gallon cart from the city. People who rent a 35-gallon cart would pay less than a person who rents a 95-gallon cart. The catch: You must fit all your trash into the cart. You wouldn’t be able to set out extra bags, although some cities allow that, for an extra charge.
• Curbside recycling. Cromwell said if the city begins charging people based on how much trash they generate, then the city also needs to make more recycling options available.
“When we look at this, we’re going to have to look at recycling options,” Cromwell said. “But a big question becomes, who is going to take care of that?”
Currently several private companies offer curbside recycling services in the city. But there also has been discussion of creating a city-operated service that would be included in monthly bill of all residents, whether they used the service or not.
Commissioners at today’smeeting are expected to formally create the task force, but they do not yet have a list of people to appoint to the task force.
Cromwell said he’ll lobby for a small task force that is heavy on city officials. But he said the task force would hold open meetings and would have community forums during March and April to get feedback from residents about what they want in terms of trash and recycling services.
“We’ll want to hear from everybody,” Cromwell said.
Commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. today at City Hall.