If there are to be any changes to the city’s trash system, they likely won’t happen as quickly as once thought.
City commissioners at their meeting on Tuesday agreed to create a seven- to 11-member trash task force but said a proposed May 15 deadline for the task force to deliver recommended changes to city commissioners was unrealistic.
“We have a one-shot opportunity to get this right,” City Commissioner Rob Chestnut said. “I think it is six to 12 months at least. There will be a lot of people, quite honestly, pulling in different directions on this.”
Commissioners settled on a one-year deadline for the task force, meaning the city likely won’t be able to include changes as part of its 2012 budget.
The task force will consider several ideas that could be controversial, including mandating customers use plastic carts instead of bags or cans; new rate systems that charge people based on their volume of trash; and privatization of the city-owned trash service
The issue of privatization came up briefly at Tuesday’s meeting. Commissioner Mike Dever said he wanted the task force’s report to be done in such a way that it could be compared with the costs a private provider would charge to operate a system in Lawrence.
Jim Mullins, a Lawrence resident and a field director for Americans for Prosperity, asked commissioners to be sure to include private individuals on the task force that would push the task force to explore privatization.
“I think you need the input of some citizens on there instead of just city staff,” Mullins said. “We need to make sure we have citizens on there to ask some tough questions.”
Mayor Mike Amyx said he does intend for the task force to have representation from outside City Hall. People interested in serving on the task force should contact the City Manager’s office on the fourth floor of City Hall within the next two weeks.