Archive for Friday, January 27, 2012

Trash task force tries to dispose of concerns

John Harjo pushes a trash bin while members of the city's Solid Waste Task Force observe, Tuesday, May 17, 2011. The task force took a tour to learn more about of Lawrence trash and recycling operations.

John Harjo pushes a trash bin while members of the city's Solid Waste Task Force observe, Tuesday, May 17, 2011. The task force took a tour to learn more about of Lawrence trash and recycling operations.

January 27, 2012


One week after being pelted with concerns from Lawrence residents, the city’s Solid Waste Task Force on Thursday said it heard them loud and clear.

Then the group spent most of its meeting Thursday evening developing a document explaining why the city should move ahead with major changes to its trash and recycling systems anyway.

Task force members last week hosted their largest public forum yet on draft recommendations that would require all single-family households to start using special plastic carts for their trash, and would require residents to pay for a citywide curbside recycling service.

Here’s a look at how the task force responded to what it said were several of the major concerns brought up at last week’s forum:

• “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” While task force members stopped short of saying the city’s current trash system is broken, they said it could be improved quite a bit. Some task force members mentioned financial problems with the service. For example, as late as 2008 the city’s auditor found the service was operating at an annual loss of about $500,000. The department’s finances have improved since then, but there have been questions about whether the current system has relied too heavily on deferring equipment purchases and reduced staffing.

Plus, Mayor Aron Cromwell — who chairs the task force — said the city is trying to accomplish some important goals by changing the service.

“We’re trying to be safer for our workers, more cost effective, and increase our recycling rate,” Cromwell said. “That’s really what we’re trying to accomplish.”

• Trash carts: Concern about where to store the trash carts has been significant. Task force members said experience in other communities suggests that if you are able to store your trash can inside your garage currently, you’ll be able to find a way to store a trash cart in your garage as well. In other words, they take up about the same amount of space. If you store your trash can outside currently, you’ll probably store your cart outside too. Several task force members said that would be an improvement.

“There are a lot of garbage cans sitting outside today,” said Joe Harkins, a member of the task force. “These carts probably will be better looking than many of the pieces of junk that are out there now.”

The task force has said the carts are essential to improving the efficiency and safety of the system. The carts will allow the city to use more trucks with hydraulic lifts, eliminating the need for workers to physically lift trash bags or cans.

• Cost: Task force members said they understand residents are nervous about how much more the service may cost. The task force is confident the new mandated carts won’t result in an increased monthly trash rate. That’s because the city is expecting workers’ compensation claims to fall significantly. But adding a new citywide, curbside recycling program will come with a cost.

The task force doesn’t know how much yet. Instead, it is recommending the City Commission receive bids on the service and also calculate how much it would cost city crews to run the system. Cromwell said he’s confident if the costs are “too high,” commissioners won’t approve the new system.

The task force also said it had heard concerns about forcing people to pay for curbside recycling service regardless of whether they use the service. But several task force members said the situation wasn’t different than the city’s current yard waste program. All single-family households pay for the yard waste program as part of their monthly bill, regardless of whether they use the service.

The task force is scheduled to hold a short meeting Tuesday to give approval to its final report. Cromwell said city commissioners likely will then schedule a study session with the task force to discuss the recommendations. City commissioners will make all final decisions on changes to the system.


gorilla 2 years, 2 months ago

I think this issue is someone's pet idea turned into solution looking for a problem. The esthetics of trash cans at the curb is not a problem sufficient to warrant this whole fiasco of task force.


pace 2 years, 2 months ago

Could of done without the dissing of the old trash cans. That said, I love my cart, much nicer and easier to handle than the old trash can. Very animal proof and our crew just hooks it and dumps. I don't think the argument about worker safety should be ignored, especially by people who don't lift trash for a living.
Curbside collection makes sense to me, I have wanted it for years. About time. Trash costs are going to change, if we plan for them or deny and try to live in the past. Our landfill is no longer locally owned, gas isn't going to get cheaper, recycle markets are gaining strength. We should design our; collection for what is going to happen, not how things were 20 years ago. I don't agree curbside collection should include glass but every home and business in this town has paper and paperboards that should go to recycling, most homes have some metal. It is past time when we can treat resources as trash. Papers and metals will and do contribute to manufacturing and industry. It is time to make planned changes rather than cry sentimental nonsense about what ain't broke. Do we let it break and say, oh we didn't know gas was going up, that landfill costs were rising, that manufacturing and industry could make jobs, products with what we use to throw away. Don't dismiss the long range environmental savings, the energy savings. We need to change, now. We have had great luck in our trash collection, good workers, usually good management, but costs are going up, we need to change, we can plan it or play oops, let it run over us.


waitjustaminute 2 years, 2 months ago

Ditto, ditto, ditto all the comments here about being against this. I recycle. It's my choice. It would be good if more folks would too. However, making it mandated? No choice? Shut up and go away? No wonder people hate the Federal government for all the mandated rulings. If this is how democracy works on the local level, no wonder things in D.C., are more screwed up than they have been in about a ba-zillion years!


cummingshawk 2 years, 2 months ago

Okay kids, you got your say, now go play while the grown-ups finish this report. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, he is only a kindly advisor with nary an ounce of pecuniary interest in forcing change to the handling of our solid waste for our own good, take your medicine and be quiet. A full financial accounting will be available after passage of the dictated [To prescribe with authority; impose: dictated the rules of the game.] changes, errrr, recommendations......


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

Paranoia is certainly striking deep on this topic.


Che 2 years, 2 months ago

Ok the censoring begins. Nice, crackerjack newspaper.


Jalley 2 years, 2 months ago

The mayor owns an environmental consulting company. It will be interesting to see who gets the bid for all of these bins. Hmmm......could it be somebody he does busy with? We need to keep an eye on him. Follow the money! Looks to me that its a conflict of interest.


Che 2 years, 2 months ago

Little confused how not using the current trash trucks until they are unrepairable is green. Buying new trucks which have to be manufactured, resources mined and shipped, has been proven not to be green. Goes with all the hybrid cars and other nonsense, the savings in gas mileage will not offset all the costs to the environment from building a new vehicle. I have a hard time believing Cromwell really gives a rats rear end about the safety of the workers but does like whatever Deffenbaugh is doing for him. How the heck did they put that Hamm guy on this committee? Hamms should be thrown in jail for crime of destroying the hill out north, clearly visible to all the Lawrence green phonies.


Che 2 years, 2 months ago

Lawrence, the city full of leadership graduates who keep telling us they want to create jobs have outsourced the bus system and running some kind of gps tracking on the trash trucks now. Funny, a town of upper education and all that these services can't be handled here. But sounds like we will end more lower paying jobs so like Aspen we can free the town of the rif raf, close trailer parks where it is pretty clear money to resettle isn't falling out their backends like money of our commissionerdeveloper inbreds and also building a poor house out by the jail so no one gets the impression this town will accept them unless they can afford gourmet hamburgers.


Che 2 years, 2 months ago

Nice, JW apparently stands behind the changes and deleting comments already.


Che 2 years, 2 months ago

Quite a fraud this city is allowing, apparently someone has concerns of being dumped in a toilet, shoot maybe two on this commission. The city has an interesting dilemma, the only real green solution is to cut consuming which is the last thing our commissioner-chambercrats want. Two 45gallon minimum size containers dumped each week before additional fees? That is green? Cromwell business is selling, mostly likely from China, solar cells and he suddenly becomes an expert on what green is. Building parking garages, building more large student housing way out from the university on a road they are trying to overwhelm to continue building excuses to build the dumb growth bypass? Building warehouse miles from town? Green? Really? And those plastic containers, green? Huh?

I currently have curbside service for recycling that takes glass, takes more plastics then Walmart. My trash for two months might fill a 45 gallon container yet I will be billed the same as the westside Mcmansions dwellers, who by the way created issues like this in the first place, yet I'm far greener in more ways than one then Cromwell could ever be.

So is he on the take? Violence, dumping in a public toilet, or just cash under the table? Is he a graduate of Sue Hack's leadership Lawrence program?


Stain 2 years, 2 months ago

I strongly oppose any outsourcing of any part of our waste disposal system. The city never should have invited Deffenbaugh in at all.


hitme 2 years, 2 months ago

We need to follow the lead of the USPS and have a central collection point for each neighborhood. On pick-up day, we all just haul our stuff up to the corner. Fewer stops, less time, fewer employees equal big savings. You can haul your stuff up the corner in any container you wish. Everyone's happy...OK, maybe not the person on the corner, but hey that's the way government works.

You don't have to thank me... just rename a portion of 11th street after me.


irvan moore 2 years, 2 months ago

we could do away with our concerns if they would do away with the task force


seriouscat 2 years, 2 months ago

You see this is all about who knows who, and over here you got favoritism.


George Lippencott 2 years, 2 months ago

Why do these arguments seem to inevitably break down to saving the planet or despoiling it? What about –

  1. Mandate recycling but allow us to pick our own means of doing so. Small households and lower income people could continue to use the various recycling points around the town. The rest of us could use the current systems we use. The majority of us seem to prefer that so why does the task force want a one size fits all government solution? Many venues our size do it as I propose.

  2. Require the standard carts for all homes using containers larger than say 30lbs. Those who generate little trash could then use a commercial cart or we could provide a smaller cart that interfaces with the lift?

  3. If we are deferring maintenance we should raise rates and recover before it gets really costly. This is a no brainer and should not be part of the task forces agenda or justification.

  4. Since we are in a rush to do this and therefore have neglected commercial and large residential units maybe we should make the report an interim one and send the group back to address the rest of the recycling challenge. Why should we wrap the 10% at the bottom while excusing the 1% at the top? Lawrence is better than that.

  5. If we continue to plan an expanded recycling program we could then revisit the single provider solution if that is desired by the majority in the future. We could also get a handle on our recycling rates and identify areas needing additional focus.

Are we in a hurry because Mr. Cromwell’s term ends soon? Come-on, recycling is more important than any one individual.

As far as being on the task force – I was not asked. I have shared my input.


FalseHopeNoChange 2 years, 2 months ago

It's the government, (which are people too) saving the planet. They run things simple and cheap. They are saving the planet. No matter the cost. Recycle.

My only question is: Are the "Trash carts" earth friendly? Do they sustainability decompose when broken beyond use? I suggest reed baskets be used that decompose better. They could be fasioned by the homeless at local shelters. Old baskets could be tossed in the trapped water south of town to improve deterioration.

All in all. It looks like a government effort.


rockchalker52 2 years, 2 months ago

Aw,rubbish. I shoulda listened when dad told me to go into the mandated cart business.


citizen1 2 years, 2 months ago

The cost factor is a major problem. Why should costs increase to residents at all?

The cost savings from reduced dump fees do not seem to be considered due to increases in recycling.

With savings on labor, workers compensation insurance, benefits (retirement, health ins, vacation, etc) do not seem to be adequately considered.

This change is predicated on reduced costs, please tell us why costs should increase?

The city does not seem to be able to do anything that doesn't end up costing we citizens something.


alcoholbliss 2 years, 2 months ago

Boy these new cans scream "CONFORMITY! " Can I purchase one so I can take the wheels lid and handles off and pain it in florescence and rainbows or can i do that as a renter? What kind restrictions are going to be imposed?


oneeye_wilbur 2 years, 2 months ago

Hmmm, Troon Lane, Goldfield, PO Boxes, anyone see any address east of Iowa except uppity OWL?

This is a disgrace. I imagine that someone on Troon does not want to be seen recycling at a dumpster at Dillons or elsewhere.

I can provide several places that went to this nonsense and LESS stuff is getting recycled. But no one in Lawrence really cares about what costs what and after all, when those at KU and high paid jobs have plenty of money, they don't give diddly squat about those who have limited income and now are being forced to pay for something they absolutely do not need.

The commissioners as a group have been duped and are trying to to it to the general public. Consider this: Lawrence has falling home sales. Houses are sitting empty but yet will be required to pay for trash carts to recycle what tell me? The pizza flyers, the beer cans thrown about.

It appears the only way to get out of this is to have the water shut off. Is that correct?


irvan moore 2 years, 2 months ago

will all the old trash cans end up in landfills?


Chris Ogle 2 years, 2 months ago

4 sail experienced trash can


Les Blevins 2 years, 2 months ago

Lawrence could be a leader and benefit in the move away from landfilling resources and instead turn those into valuable products if it were not for clinging to outdated ideas. Could having a landfill representative on the board that is making decisions and trying to force em down the throats of locals be at the root of the problem? I think the public has a right to know the truth.

Sec. Vilsack says about the Iowa project; "This project is another step the Obama administration is taking to support production of a new generation of renewable fuels, in order to build an active biofuels and biomass production industry in every region of the country," said Vilsack. "Investments in renewable energy create jobs and reduce America's dependence on foreign oil."


Les Blevins 2 years, 2 months ago

Mayor Aron Cromwell — who chairs the task force — said the city is trying to accomplish some important goals by changing the service. “We’re trying to be safer for our workers, more cost effective, and increase our recycling rate,” Cromwell said. “That’s really what we’re trying to accomplish.”

I don't buy that argument. I think that position statement isn't accurate and is at the heart of the problem. My proposal would do all those things and yet Cromwell won't respond to my proposal and tell me why he won't respond. Could it be that having a representative of the landfill company is the problem and the reason Cromwell and Amyx won't respond to my proposal? What Lawrence needs is a biorefinery like Blairstown IA is about to get and have funding support provided by the USDA.

Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack announced on Jan. 20 that USDA has approved a conditional commitment for a $25 million guaranteed loan to build a new biorefinery plant with funding support from USDA's Biorefinery Assistance Program. The plant will be constructed by Fiberight LLC based in Blairstown, Iowa.

If Lawrence leaders had good intentions they would engage with me to figure out how we could create 200 jobs at the new industrial plant in producing biorefinery equipment based on the patent I obtained on such equipment back in 1993 and have been trying to raise up local interest in ever since. But Lawrence leaders and the Journal World owners have been against any public mention of it. I can only assume they want to keep the public in the dark for some underhanded reason.


classclown 2 years, 2 months ago

"One week after being pelted with concerns from Lawrence residents, the city’s Solid Waste Task Force on Thursday said it heard them loud and clear."

Then using a word not suitable for print in the LJWorld, told them what to do with themselves.


somedude20 2 years, 2 months ago


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Christine Pennewell Davis 2 years, 2 months ago

one of those automated trucks came thrue our neighborhood tuesday and the guys where still having to get out and put the cans in the right spot so the truck could get to it. Plus in the time it took the truck to pick one can up the regular trucks could have gotten thru about 3 to 4 houses in the same time this is a waste of jobs and money and time, it will take till sundown just to get the trash picked up let alone any recycle bins that are out not worth it.


Kate Rogge 2 years, 2 months ago

The fix is already in LONG before they call for a public discussion. So if the current system "has relied too heavily on deferring equipment purchases and reduced staffing," the answer is to buy new equipment, eliminate staffing, and force everyone to rent new bins. And for those brilliant decisions they needed a task force? And a pubic discussion they've ignored?


Keith Richards 2 years, 2 months ago

The system must take GLASS or it will be completely worthless!


Floyd Craig 2 years, 2 months ago

yes teh rich folks dont give a d*M about the workers who have famiys to take care of they gotr money so why worry about the men and woman that do the real dirty work that theyd never think of doing they do thier job no matter what the weather is the sanitaion department is self supporting when tehy other departments needs money they take it from them trash departmenttheyve already got a new truck useing it to see if it will do the job BUT it wont do as good as teh men who ride on teh backs of those big blue trucks leave them alone keep with the system we've had for years you people are so stupid leave them alone


Alceste 2 years, 2 months ago

Despite the fact the "decions have already been made": That is to say the "public forum" was but for window dressing:

Why not call, write, or email the hand picked rich folks who are making the decisions for you? Couldn't hurt. I think calling these people at 1am and 2am is a really good time to express your thoughts because these hand picked, I agree with the already made decision people probably think best at that time. shrug

Contact 'em:

Aron Cromwell, Mayor

P.O. Box 708, 66044



City Commission Representative +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

William Beeson, Sanitation Division Loader

P.O. Box 708, 66044


Sanitation Division +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Suzi Cammon

2909 Stratford, 66049


843.7566 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Joe Harkins

1713 Troon Lane, 66047


841.1703 ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Daniel Poull

821 Ohio, 66044


749.5578 Sustainability Advisory Board ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Sam Porritt

4513 Goldfield, 66049


550.8129 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Ralph Reed

50 Winona Avenue, 66046-4848


691.7181 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Charlie Sedlock

1101 Wagon Wheel Road, 66049


749.5799 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Jeff Severin

Center for Sustainability

320 Carruth-O’Leary

1246 West Campus Road, 66045

Email: 864.5804 University of Kansas Sustainability Office ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Christine Tomlin

1016 Hilltop Drive, 66049


843.1624 ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Dan Wethington

3124 Campfire Ct., 66049


841.6942 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


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