Archive for Monday, August 13, 2012

Lawrence city commissioners set to approve $885,490 purchase of 21,000 wheeled plastic trash carts

August 13, 2012


Get ready to close the lid on Lawrence’s great trash cart debate.

After months of hand-wringing, city commissioners at their Tuesday meeting will be asked to approve the $885,490 purchase of 21,000 wheeled plastic trash carts that will be distributed to essentially every single-family household in the city. The purchase is part of a plan to require households to use the carts rather than traditional trash cans or bags. If approved, the carts likely would be distributed in October.

“I’m confident this is going to create a better trash system than what we have now,” said City Commissioner Mike Dever.

City leaders are projecting the city’s workers’ compensation claims will drop significantly with the new system because sanitation workers won’t be required routinely to lift heavy trash cans and bags. Instead, hydraulic lifts that currently are on all city trash trucks will be used to dump the carts.

The city had about $700,000 worth of workers’ compensation claims in the Solid Waste Division in the last two years.

“It is one of the more accident-prone positions in the entire city,” Dever said. “We can’t just keep ignoring that there are ways that will make the lifting much easier.”

The idea of mandated carts, however, has not been universally loved. Some residents have complained they won’t have enough room to store the carts in their garages. Some have complained the system will force them to get rid of a perfectly good trash can. Others have expressed concern the new mandate is an overreach of government authority.

But city officials said they think the carts eventually will become popular with residents.

“What we have learned from other communities is there’s usually a one- or two-month adjustment period, but once you get past that period, people really like having the carts,” said Tammy Bennett, assistant public works director.

Bennett also said the city will be prepared to assist during the transition. She said a staff member likely would be available to come to individual homes to provide advice on how a garage or storage shed, for example, could be slightly rearranged to make room for the cart, for residents who don’t want to store the cart outdoors.

The city also will have a 120-day “right-sizing period,” where the city will take extra steps to ensure a household has the right size cart to meet its trash needs.

All single-family households, Bennett said, will be given a 65-gallon cart, unless they specifically request a different size. The city also will offer, upon request, a 35-gallon or 95-gallon cart. During the 120-day right-sizing period, the city will switch out carts at no charge.

Commissioners at their Tuesday meeting also will be asked to approve a rate plan for the various size carts. Details of the staff’s proposed rate plan include:

• Residents using the 65-gallon cart would pay $14.94 per month, which is the same rate currently charged to households that don’t use a cart. People who currently rent a 65-gallon cart from the city pay $16.44 per month, so those households will see a $1.50 decrease in their monthly rates under the plan.

City officials said they don’t need to raise rates to pay for the new carts because they had an equipment reserve fund that could cover the cost of the carts.

• Residents using the 95-gallon cart would pay $15.94 per month under the proposed system That is $1 less than what city residents currently pay for trash service, if they rent a large cart from the city.

• Residents using the 35-gallon cart would pay $14.44 per month. That’s 50 cents less than the current base rate, which doesn’t include any type of cart.

The proposed rate for the 35-gallon cart already has drawn some discussion from city commissioners.

Dever and Commissioner Mike Amyx both have said they want to give residents a real incentive to put out less trash, but they’re not sure 50 cents per month will provide the necessary impetus to reduce their waste.

City staff members are cautioning against a larger price break because it could cause some people to abuse the new system. Under the current proposal, the city will allow people to set out extra bags of trash on an “occasional basis” when they can’t fit all their trash in their carts.

But staff members said they don’t want to provide households an incentive to get a cart that is too small for their needs.

Dever said he was willing to give the proposed 50-cent price break a try, but wanted to study the issue again before setting rates for 2014.

“It is really more of a token gesture at this point in time,” Dever said.

If commissioners on Tuesday approve the purchase of the carts — most of which would be made at the Rehrig Pacific manufacturing plant in De Soto — Bennett said she thinks they could be delivered to people’s homes by late October.

Commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.


friendlyjhawk 5 years, 10 months ago

Will we ever see a headline that says "Lawrence City Commission saves $885,490" Or even $10?

Phillbert 5 years, 10 months ago

Yes - when workers compensation claims drop because of the new trash carts.

mdlund0 5 years, 10 months ago

No, if worker's comp claims in the sanitation dept amount to $700,000/year, and the trash carts cost $885,490, theoretically it will only take 16 months.... not to mention we're not hurting our city workers. Meanwhile, the carts have a lifespan of at least 10 years, if not 20. This deal seems like a no-brainer.

jafs 5 years, 10 months ago

That assumes that all of the worker's comp cases will disappear as a result of the new system.

TruthSayer 5 years, 10 months ago

Unfortunately, claims do not necessarily translate into pay outs. It will be interesting to see how much of the $700K is awarded.

dragonfly0221 5 years, 10 months ago

We are spending almost as much on trash cans as suicide prevention?!

Currahee 5 years, 10 months ago

Here's an idea: Why not let us have the carts for free? City still ends up "saving money" from less workmans comp cases, residents don't complain how public money was used to buy public carts and having to pay more money for unwanted public carts.

Is it just me or does it seem like this city seems to try and profit from its citizens? No wonder growth slowed dramatically in the 2010s.

Jayhawker07 5 years, 10 months ago

Right on Currahee,

"City officials said they don’t need to raise rates to pay for the new carts because they had an equipment reserve fund that could cover the cost of the carts. "

Equipment Reserve Fund???? Did not know we had one. Why were we not notified? How much do we have in this reserve fund for trash. And while we are on this how many other reserve funds do we have within the city. The voters have a right to know. I think spending close to a million dollars on plastic carts is alot. I have a cart now that works on the system, so do most of the folks in this town that I see on trash day. Are you telling us that these carts that the city provided us that work on the trucks now (scoot them over on the deal, press the lever and dump) is no longer acceptible and we need new carts. I would like to know the answer to that!!!!!!!!!!!

Jayhawker07 5 years, 10 months ago

Just out of curiosity, how many carts are currently in use? How many residenses exist in Lawrence? How much do they charge per dumpster @ apartments and buisnesses each week?

mdlund0 5 years, 10 months ago

The carts the city currently provides are identical to the ones they will be buying and distributing. Why is a reserve fund a bad thing? Cities get into a lot of trouble when they only live on the margins and hard times hit. You're free to get the information via Freedom of Information requests and Kansas Open Records requests any time you like - it has not been kept secret from you. Everything can't be told to you all of the time - there aren't enough hours in the day, days in the week, or weeks in the year... every once in a while you have to take some responsibility, investigate, and find things out for yourself.

TruthSayer 5 years, 10 months ago

The first part of your opinion is spot on, However, the transparency of public funds should be of open, and continuous availability by our leaders AND the press. After all, isn't it their job? Or, is the term "civil servant" a misnomer? Is investigative journalism dead? I am somewhat tired of the media and government continually telling citizens that we should do more, while they do less. Maybe, in time, someone will ask the question; "What other ways are there, to spend reserve funds, to decrease unemployment, homelessness, housing, utility, food costs etc., for the general citizenry of Lawrence. Not just how the city can save on workers comp. claims." Oh wait...I just did!

parrothead8 5 years, 10 months ago

If the rates will go back up in a year due to rising fuel and landfill rates, that doesn't really have anything to do with the carts. I don't really want these carts either, but your argument is a poor one.

mdlund0 5 years, 10 months ago

Oh good god, your stupid furnace idea again? If it was worth anything, someone would have cared by now. Let it go, man! No one wants to hear about it because it's a bunch of bunk!

headdoctor 5 years, 10 months ago

Actually the furnace idea has been used elsewhere with pretty good success as long as it was working. Garden City, Kansas built one many years ago that was to be efficient with reduced emissions. After spending many thousands of dollars building it they found out it worked great for a few weeks until some clown decided to run a bunch of PVC or similar product through it and ruined it.

januarygirl 5 years, 10 months ago


mdlund0 5 years, 10 months ago

$14.94 is the cost of trash removal in its entirety, Troll, not the cost of the trash cart.

cowboy 5 years, 10 months ago

Are the reserve dollars taken from water revenues ? What happened to the audit of transferred water revenue to admin departments ?

Sue McDaniel 5 years, 10 months ago

I knew if I just waited SOMEONE (i.e. the taxpayers (me) would buy a new trash can and charge me a ton for it!!!!!! REALLY???????? This is crazy. Just keep on making a socialist culture in every little way. They will get there. I really love it when the food stamps have better groceries than I can afford.

Tyson Travis 5 years, 10 months ago

What about yard waste/trimmings? Can they be put in the new carts, or do you still have to bundle or tie or use your old perfectly good yard trash cans? Somebody's still going to be lifting yard waste into a collection truck and straining their back and making injury claims. Perhaps you can make dual-purpose use of your rolling dumpster, putting your yard waste into it early in the week, then refilling it with household garbage later, depending on your location's collection schedule. My family's neighborhood has yard waste pickups on Mondays, then household garbage on Thursdays, sounds ideal for 2x-weekly use of the same dumpster and nobody has to do any heavy lifting.

snitty 5 years, 10 months ago

So, what happens when someone uses a regular can and not the new and approved model? I sure hope that there will not be any penalties.

mdlund0 5 years, 10 months ago

If it's like past places I've lived, they'll just throw the whole trash can in the back of the truck and drive off (you left it on the curb as trash).

Clara Westphal 5 years, 10 months ago

I am 83, handicapped and live alone. I can drag a bag to the curb but I see no way I can get a cart to the curb.

Clara Westphal 5 years, 10 months ago

Thank you for the information. It is a big help.

Brent Cagle 5 years, 10 months ago

Do you realize that the cart will have wheels on it?

gatekeeper 5 years, 10 months ago

For the elderly, that doesn't really matter. My elderly mother in KC can't haul the carts they're required to have to the curb once it's full. It's illegal in O.P. to leave the cart out in view, so she has to keep it in the garage until trash day. I end up having to go there every Thursday to get her trash out. She can haul a single bag to the curb, but not the cart. maybe you'll understand one day when you're old and disabled.

Brent Cagle 5 years, 10 months ago

You're right, I don't have the firsthand perspective of someone who is elderly and/or disabled, but something still doesn't make sense. If someone only has one bag of trash per week now, they will still have only one bag even when given a cart. I'm not understanding how a lightweight, wheeled, plastic cart, which reduces the load to almost nothing, is harder than hauling the deadweight of the plastic bag by itself.

Katara 5 years, 10 months ago

The size of the cart might make it more difficult to maneuver. It doesn't have to be heavy to be difficult, just bulky.

mdlund0 5 years, 10 months ago

Who is responsible for replacing the current bins that one can rent from the city under your scenario? There is no policy change here.

CHEEZIT 5 years, 10 months ago

Are they going to be Crimson and Blue? Been to Manhattan lately? Yes their bins are Purple!!!

bad_dog 5 years, 10 months ago

Don't know what it is, but something about purple just screams "Trash"!

inquire 5 years, 10 months ago

First, if you don't like the trash cart scenario of awesomeness, you can haul your own stuff to the dump. I mean, it IS America. Land of the free. You are free to not buy trash pick up service and you are free to take your own trash to the dump. So put up or shut up.

Second, how do you throw away a trash can? Anyone ever try that? Seems like it's going to be a tricky one.....

TruthSayer 5 years, 10 months ago

At least the purchase will be made from a local manufacturer. I have gotten tired of the city sending too many of our tax dollars out of state!

jaywalker 5 years, 10 months ago

I stand corrected. I thought the Chick Fil-a debate was the dumbest string I'd seen this year. This one tops it.

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