Solid Waste Task Force likely to propose city-issued recycling cart

Clear the way for the carts.

A city-appointed task force on Wednesday moved a step closer to making a recommendation that all single-family households in the city be required to have two city-issued, plastic, wheeled refuse carts — one for trash and one for curbside recycling.

But the group — which will make its recommendations to the City Commission, which will have the final say on the matter — generally agreed that whatever changes are made should be done in phases, in order to give residents time to adjust.

“We want the community to be a partner in this effort, not a victim of it,” said Mayor Aron Cromwell, who is chairman of the task force. “That’s the only way this is really going to work.”

The task force directed staff members to begin writing a draft chapter of a report that will recommend:

• Residents be required to place all trash in a city-issued plastic cart, rather than using traditional trash cans or bags. If residents had too much trash to fit into the container, they could buy stickers from the city that could be placed on bags that would be placed at the curb. The stickers, the price of which have not been determined, essentially would allow the city to collect more in fees from people who put out large amounts of trash.

“I think it would address some of the comments about why are people who set out a grocery-size bag of trash are paying the same amount as someone who sets out two or three cans worth of trash,” said Jeff Severin, a member of the task force.

Task force members like the idea of carts because it will allow the city to buy more automated trucks that will rely less on crew members lifting and hauling heavy trash cans.

• Residents receive a second plastic cart that would be used for curbside recycling. The task force isn’t considering any proposal where curbside recycling would be mandatory. So people would not be prohibited from throwing away items that could be recycled. But the task force is seriously considering a recommendation that curbside recycling be a part of everyone’s monthly bill, whether they use the service or not. Task force members said the issue of how much the service would cost likely would be the factor that determines whether the service should be added to everyone’s bill. The group hasn’t yet received any good estimates on how much a curbside recycling program would add to a monthly bill.

At Wednesday’s meeting, it became evident the group may not get those cost estimates before it makes its recommendations to the City Commission in early 2012. Instead, the task force said it likely will recommend that the City Commission take formal bids or request for proposals from private companies who are interested in running a citywide, curbside recycling program. The city then would examine those costs to determine whether it could do the service for a lesser cost or at a higher service level. The task force has shown no interest in taking bids from private companies to run the entire trash service. Task force members have been united that the city ought to continue to operate the service.

Also left unaddressed by the task force on Wednesday was the frequency of any new curbside recycling service. But Cromwell said he expects the task force ultimately will settle on recommending that curbside recycling be picked up once a week, just like the trash. He also said he expects the report will recommend that the current yard waste service be maintained at its current schedule, which is once a week for most of the year.

A cart would not be required for setting out yard waste. The report also will include a recommendation that the city create a system or a set number of days that residents can set out large items, such as mattresses or appliances, for little or no charge.