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Archive for Thursday, April 26, 2012

Report provides details on trash carts

April 26, 2012

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A proposal to require Lawrence households to start using city-owned trash carts instead of standard bags or cans is rolling ever closer to a debate at Lawrence City Hall.

City staff members have created a set of recommendations for the city to purchase 23,000 trash carts — at a price tag of about $1.13 million — that could allow the carts to start showing up on curbs by late September.

“When I talk to sanitation loaders about what can make their jobs safer and quicker, they are all over the idea of everybody having carts,” said City Manager David Corliss. “I want to try to do something the entire industry is moving towards.”

The idea of requiring Lawrence residents to replace their cans or bags with a city-issued cart isn’t new. It was the top recommendation of the city’s Solid Waste Task Force earlier this year.

But the new report out of City Hall gives the most details yet about the structure and expense of the program. City staff members are projecting the cart program won’t require an increase in monthly bills for any residents, and may decrease the bills of the about 7,000 households that currently rent a cart from the city.

City commissioners haven’t yet set a date to debate the issue, but Corliss said he expects the subject to be on a commission agenda within the next month. Corliss said that if commissioners make a decision early this summer to move forward with the program, the carts could start arriving in Lawrence in the fall.

Here’s a look at several details of the proposal that will be presented to city commissioners:

• A 65-gallon cart would be the standard size issued to households. City staff members are estimating the 65-gallon cart will meet the trash needs of a typical four-person household, especially if the household recycles some of its trash. Households would be provided the city-owned cart for no additional charge per month.

• A 90-gallon cart would be issued to households that have a difficult time fitting all their trash into the 65-gallon cart. Households that choose to have the 90-gallon cart would pay a $1-per-month fee.

• The new trash system would allow a household to place bags of trash at the curb if its cart is full. There would be no extra charge for picking up a bag or two, but the city has indicated it wants such activity to be the exception, not the rule. The memo proposes that route drivers and solid waste supervisors keep a log of households that regularly are setting out bags of trash.

• A 35-gallon cart will be offered to households that believe a 65-gallon cart is simply too large. The 35-gallon cart isn’t much larger than a standard trash can, which city officials hope will blunt some concerns that people don’t have room to store these carts. Staff members, however, aren’t recommending that households receive a price break for taking the 35-gallon cart instead of the 65-gallon version.

• Staff members are estimating the 7,000 households that currently rent a cart from the city will see their trash bills decline under the cart program. The city currently charges $1.50 per month to rent a 65-gallon cart. Under the proposed program that monthly fee would be eliminated. The city currently charges $2 per month to rent a 90-gallon cart. Under the proposed program, that fee would drop to $1 per month.

• The memo recommends the city use $1.12 million from the equipment reserve fund in the city’s solid waste division to cover the bulk of the trash cart purchases.

“We have held back on a number of expenditures in that department, and in some cases staffing, in recognition that this really needs to happen,” Corliss said.

The memo projects the city’s 2013 budget for the solid waste division will allow residential trash rates to remain unchanged from their current levels of $14.94 per month. The budget, however, does call for the elimination of one position in the department. That position currently is vacant.

City leaders previously have said they expect the cart system to pay for itself through lower workers compensation claims and reductions in staff as the carts allow for more automated trucks in the future.

Comments

lawrencelifer 1 year, 11 months ago

When my wife operated a licensed daycare out of our home a few years ago, I purchased two 90 gallon trash cans. I purposefully purchased ones having lift bars for the trash trucks, hoping to take it easy on those that would otherwise have to lift large cans that might occasionally be heavy. When I first heard of the city proposal to require all of us to use city carts, I immediately emailed city commissioners to share what I've described above. I was told by Mr. Cromwell, in particular, that there would be not increase in cost. Now that details are coming out, I see that the proposal would provide me with one 65 gallon cart, 25 gallons less than one of my current cans. For an extra $1, I can have one can the same size as those I already own.

Now, my wife is no longer in the daycare business, so we do not use both cans for trash very often anymore. Usually, we can use one for trash, and use the other one for yard waste. However, if we have a larger trash week, we have the flexibility to use cans that we've already paid for, and not use bags. If the city wants to require households to have trash cans with the lift bars, so be it. Give people a year or two grace period to wear out their current cans, and then purchase new ones with the required lift bars. Spending over $1 million of tax-payer's money is a complete waste. Giving people a grace period to purchase their own can, or be allowed to rent one from the city if they choose, would take no money out of the public coffers, and it would have the same result of lessening worker's compensation claims that come from lifting heavy cans. Those of us that already have cans that meet requirements should not have them forced upon us, costing more money, and providing much less service. Those that believe they can lessen the amount of trash that people produce by such mandates are kidding themselves, too. Although I would not be one to do such a thing, I know that charging more based on the amount of trash produced will only create more pollution, as some will deal with the issue by taking a bag to the nearest ditch instead of send it to a managed landfill, as they currently do. Additionally, limiting the size and number of trash containers is going to have many to frequently attempt to force too much trash into too small of a can. Cans that are slightly ajar, or sometimes left wide open, attract animals that scatter trash. Sometimes good intentions that are not well thought out result in many unintended and worse consequences. Just because this ball has started to roll does not mean that it should not be reconsidered and stopped.

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sunny 1 year, 11 months ago

You notice the cost of trying to keep up with the Jones' right?

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sunny 1 year, 11 months ago

I don't like someone else telling me how to live my life or how to spend my money!

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Beth Ennis 1 year, 11 months ago

ok folks, this is a no brainer. We have been using one of the carts for years. First off, it doesn't blow away on windy days. Secondly, if anything happens to it (loses a wheel, breaks) the city replaces it or repairs it. But most importantly, the trash trucks can now be operated by 1 person instead of 3. Right now it takes a driver and 2 guys on the back. With the carts, the driver gets out, hooks the cart up to a lift on the back of the truck, the truck lifts the cart up and dumps the contents into the truck. Fewer workmens comp claims from getting cut by broken glass in a bag or hurting a back from picking up something that looks light but has some heavy stuff hidden in it. I've worked for 2 city governments and one of them used these carts. The other one uses only trash bags because they couldn't afford to replace everyone's 30 gal trash cans that were blowing away and then getting run over by a vehicle. There were also a lot of claims when people would throw away broken glass and as the bag was being picked up, it would brush against the leg of the lifter and cut them or some such thing. It is going to save the city some money in the long run, which saves you and I the tax payer. If they can hire fewer workers that is where the real cost savings comes in. Now, I know we don't want to lay people off, but lets face it. No one wants to pay taxes and no one wants to pay for services. So, they have to make cuts somewhere. Some people in this town just complain to hear themselves complain I think.

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JackMcKee 1 year, 11 months ago

I'm gonna need the bigger cart so I can throw the smaller cart away in it.

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ashford 1 year, 11 months ago

This is a dictatorship even if we do not refer what we do in our country against other people’s choice. This is another micro government dictating what is good for us in pretense of making things easy for facility workers. To convince us, they have to demonstrate it for us to show how better it is than putting our bagged trash together at the curbs. I already see too many large trash plastic canisters lying everywhere on the street and on grass lawns that are eyesores, and safety hazards, especially during windy days.

Some homes have already many trash cans by their porches or garages which exhibit junk and dirty environment. Why is it that our local city government wants to have a hand in contributing to such disaster? They are probably looking for a way for more fees and fines from residents paying more to be collected in subterfuge of making thing easy for the worker. They make laws and regulations not to protect the society but for revenues.

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DennyBarritt 1 year, 11 months ago

Me either Cromwell. I still want to know what all those people are doing standing there watching in the picture. You'd have to assume they're not dumb enough to dress like that voluntarily unless they are getting paid. What's the purpose of this photo? Is the trash real or is it standing on the sidewalk?

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Kate Rogge 1 year, 11 months ago

There's no such thing as a public debate with the Lawrence City Commissioners. Whatever the issue, the decision is always a done deal long before any public debate about it. I'd like to know why we cannot simply buy a container and cart - from more than one source, please - that meets the city's standards rather than rent forever? It's one thing to rent if you're just passing through, but quite another to insist that required equipment be rented for decades.

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Patricia Davis 1 year, 11 months ago

I love my city can. We've had one for years. I have a rather steep drive and it is easy to get up and down to the curb. I am glad to read (hope, hope, hope) it's true that yard waste can go into other cans. I have no grass but I have lots of leaves/clippings etc. At my age (63), I prefer carts with wheels than trying to fill the paper bags. Then there is Mother Nature's sense of humor of liking to rain on the bags before they are picked up: big mess!

As for reducing jobs, the word is always that loss will be through attrition. I'd like to give a big shout out to all the guys (never have seen a woman). In my experience they have always been helpful and polite.

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fabian_zimbabwe 1 year, 11 months ago

Man, what's the big deal here? Here in KCMO, I wish we had trash carts, but they're not allowed. Instead, the trash bags go to the curb where they're easily ripped open by nature's finest. I'd love to be able to make use of a cart with a lid.

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Bryan Anderson 1 year, 11 months ago

When the revolution comes, the first thing they'll take is......your trash can... BEWARE!!!!!

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time2kill 1 year, 11 months ago

This is incredibly premature. The city has yet to commission an independent analysis of the potential emotional impact on raccoons and possums. If my tax dollars are going to be squandered on trash carts, I feel we should be properly insulated against the legal challenges that will doubtless be brought on behalf of savenging rodents.

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DennyBarritt 1 year, 11 months ago

Can someone please tell me what all the other people in this picture are doing? It almost appears that they're ALL on the public payroll. Where was this picture taken and under what circumstances? Are we paying 12 people to watch 2 people actually do work or is the whole thing staged and the trash is fake as well?

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crittersister 1 year, 11 months ago

Some of you glossed over the fact that this new system will reduce the number of injuries to city workers. Think about how your actions and selfishness effect other people and the cost to the city.

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patkindle 1 year, 11 months ago

It has always amused me the Lawrence trash crew Requires a driver and two loaders, plus the guy in the white city pickup to follow them around to make sure they didn’t steal anything

My small home town uses a national trash out fit, they have a fleet of trucks with the driver on the right side . he stops and loads at each location by hand.

They are not very fast but they get the job done every week, For every giant trash pile they pick up they still have The folks with only one bag.

Recycling is done by a local sheltered workshop and has drop off locations around town. Keep it simple , and inexpensive

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daddax98 1 year, 11 months ago

you can have my trash can when you pry it from my cold dead hands! geez people will get their bloomers in a bunch over anything these days

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kernal 1 year, 11 months ago

Actually, I like those carts. Unlike my old trash cans, they don't blow away during strong winds while I'm at work; the lid is attached to the cart and snaps closed so I don't have to worry about dogs, coyotes and raccoons getting into my trash or the lids blowing away after the trash is emptied and if someone runs over them or steals them, you don't have to go out and buy a new one. They're also easier to get to the curb because they have wheels and a handle bar on the front and back; I especially appreciate that when the driveway is icy and snowy.

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George_Braziller 1 year, 11 months ago

So if you only get one cart and can only occasionally put out a couple of extra bags what are we supposed to do with yard waste? At my house the yard waste is picked up on Monday and the trash is picked up on Tuesday.

If I fill the cart with yard waste I have to store the trash in my house for a week, if I fill it with trash I can't get rid of the yard waste. Currently I have one can for each.

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mdlund0 1 year, 11 months ago

I don't understand why making a transition to standardized devices takes so much thought and effort. Just do it and be done with it.

Personal choice? Regarding TRASH CANS? Somehow I do not see having to use a standardized device for a city service as an assault on personal liberty. You don't get to choose your water, electric, or gas meters either. The fact that they're considering letting people choose the size they prefer is baffling to me.

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JackMcKee 1 year, 11 months ago

So if the Supreme Court says that the government can't force me to buy a product/service, why can the City of Lawrence force me to rent their trash can?

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Cant_have_it_both_ways 1 year, 11 months ago

Its ok folks, the city government knows what is better for you, this includes all the other busts like the empT, library, bus maintenance facility, Lawrence Arts center, and the list goes on.

What ever happened to personal choice?

Fire them all in the fall!

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jehovah_bob 1 year, 11 months ago

Will the trash carts be white? I really would hate for it to clash with my yard decor.

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