Archive for Monday, June 11, 2012

Town Talk: City may have to wait two years before it can start curbside recycling; details of potential curbside program emerge; city to also discuss mandatory trash carts

June 11, 2012


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News and notes from around town:

• If you were hoping the city would add a curbside recycling component to its city-operated trash service sometime in the near future, you may be out of luck.

If you were hoping state government would find a way to slow cities from starting curbside recycling programs, well, you’re in the right state.

Lawrence city commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting will start the process of formally exploring the creation of a new citywide curbside recycling program.

But as part of their research on the subject, city staff members have found a state law that will require the city to delay the start of any such curbside recycling program for at least two years.

A pair of state statutes enacted in July 2011 require the city to go through a lengthy process to add curbside recycling to the list of services the city provides.

In short, state law requires the city to pass a resolution of intent to start a curbside recycling program. City commissioners will consider doing that at their Tuesday meeting. But the state law then requires at least a 90-day waiting period before commissioners can be presented with that plan. Just for good measure, another 30 days are thrown in there before commissioners can actually adopt the plan.

Then, the big waiting period begins. Once the plan is adopted, according to state law, the city can not actually start operating a curbside recycling program for at least another 18 months. Given all that, the soonest the city could start a curbside recycling program is June 2014, according to a city memo.

As I understand it, the state law doesn’t impact the ability of private companies to enter a community and start their own curbside recycling service — which Deffenbaugh and several smaller companies have done in Lawrence. Instead, the law impacts the ability of city governments to operate a curbside recycling service as part of a city utility. That is what the city plans to explore: a service that may be run by a private company but would be included on the city’s monthly water, sewer and trash bills. All city residences would be required to pay for the service regardless of whether they use it.

The 18-month waiting period could have some interesting ramifications. It will allow the various private companies operating in town a longer transition period to prepare for the inevitable harm a citywide service would inflict on their small operations.

But the waiting period also will give the issue more time to become a political hot potato. With an 18-month waiting period, that makes it very likely there will be a City Commission election in between the time the city passes a plan and the time it actually starts. Perhaps that is the intent of the state law, given some people argue a recycling fee is very similar to a tax because residents won’t have any easy way to avoid it.

I don’t know. But surely state legislators know what they’re doing on this subject. After all, this is the same group that brought us the great exercise in efficiency known as redistricting.

• So, what may a city-operated curbside recycling program look like? As noted, city leaders will have plenty of time to hash that out. But city staff members are presenting some ideas at Tuesday’s meeting. Here’s a look:

— The idea of mandatory pay but voluntary participation is still at the top of the list for city staff members. Every residence in the city would have an as-yet-undetermined amount added to its monthly water, sewer and trash bill. But residences wouldn’t be required to put their recyclables in a recycling container. They can still throw such material away, but the city is betting many folks won’t if they are having to pay for the service anyway.

— Businesses would not be part of the program, as currently proposed. A staff memo notes that many businesses already have private contracts for recycling, and some count on revenue from selling recycled materials.

— Apartment complexes would be included in the program. As proposed, all apartment complexes would have some type of recycling bin that will be emptied by the city or its contractor. At the moment, it looks like apartment dwellers would pay the same monthly rate as homeowners, even though the service wouldn’t exactly be curbside for apartment residents.

— As for rates, the city still doesn’t have an estimate of how much it would add to a monthly bill. There is a lot of discussion among some city leaders of having the rate near $5 per month or less. But city officials don’t know if such a rate is financially feasible. Determining a feasible monthly rate is one of the main reasons the city wants to get proposals from several private companies.

— City staff members want to explore an option where a private company would run both the collection and processing of recycled materials. Staff members also want to explore an alternative where the city would run the collection of the materials but a private company would handle the processing. Under either scenario, the city would be responsible for billing and other administrative matters.

— The city is strongly leaning toward a single-stream recycling option. Such a system would allow residents to throw all their recyclable materials into a single container. But what materials would be accepted? The city is expecting all the standards such as newsprint, mixed paper, office paper, corrugated containers, tin and steel cans; aluminum cans, and plastics coded No. 1 through No. 7. But the city is making no promises on whether glass bottles and jars would be collected. The area’s largest processing center for recyclable materials — operated by Deffenbaugh in Kansas City — doesn’t process glass. But there is a ready buyer for glass in Kansas City — Ripple Glass — which some have suggested should make it feasible for the city to collect glass at the curb.

— The staff memo suggests the city should receive bids for both a once-per-week service and a once-every-other-week service. But the city’s Solid Waste Task Force certainly was leaning toward a once-per-week service.

• City commissioners at their Tuesday meeting also will consider moving ahead on a plan to purchase trash carts that residents would be required to use instead of their standard trash cans or bags. Commissioners on Tuesday will be asked to allow staff members to seek bids for the 23,000 carts that will be needed for the trash system. (If commissioners move ahead with a curbside recycling program, the city will need to purchase additional carts at a later time.)

We’ve previously reported on the details staff members are recommending on trash carts, but here’s a reminder:

— 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 at no additional charge.

— A 90-gallon cart will be issued to households that are having a difficult time fitting their trash into the 65-gallon cart. Households that choose to have the 90-gallon cart would pay $1 a month.

— The new trash system would allow households to place bags of trash at the curb, if their 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 set out bags of trash. The memo doesn’t state it, but I suspect that system will be used to approach people who are constantly setting out bags to upgrade to the 90-gallon cart.

— A 35-gallon cart will be offered to households that believe a 65-gallon cart is simply too large. Staff members, however, aren’t recommending that households receive a price break for taking the 35-gallon cart instead of the 65-gallon version.

— The city would provide a program for a limited time to allow residents to recycle their old trash cans. The memo states several trash cart companies will take the old trash cans and recycle the plastic to use in new carts.

— Staff members are estimating that about 7,000 households will see their monthly trash bills go down as a result of the new program. That’s because about 7,000 households currently rent a trash cart from the city. Most rent a 90-gallon cart. They pay the city an extra $2 per month, currently, to rent those 90-gallon carts. The new system would charge $1 per month, so my abacus tells me that would be a savings of $1 per month. If those folks who rent a 90-gallon cart today decide they’ll try to make a 65-gallon work, they’ll save $2 per month. That’s because the city wouldn’t charge a rental fee for the standard 65-gallon cart under the new system.

— The city is estimating it will cost about $1.13 million to purchase the 23,000 carts. The city previously has set aside about $1.12 million to make upgrades to the city’s trash system.


chzypoof1 5 years, 11 months ago

Taxes, Taxes, and more Taxes.

Being GREEN = TAXES. Helping the environment in a responsible, OPTIONAL way is way too logical for these people. Force more taxes on us, and we will submit.

Clueless sheeple.


Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 11 months ago

Again, the governmental agencies plan to use tax dollars to compete with local business. City services pay no taxes, and put tax paying small business out of a job. This is true with the empT which competes with 4 smaller taxi cab companies.

Get ready for a rise in property taxes or an additional sales tax to fund this.

tomatogrower 5 years, 11 months ago

Brownback eliminated your argument. Small and large businesses, if they set up their business plan right, won't be paying taxes either, so what's your point.

Taxi's are for people who have more money, or people who need to get to a place more directly or more quickly than the bus, or people who are either afraid of other people or are antisocial. It sounds to me like 4 taxi companies are doing ok. I don't remember there being 4 companies when there was no bus at all. In fact, the one time I needed a taxi before the bus system was in place, they were 20 minutes late, and charged a lot of money. I was not impressed with their service. Maybe bus competition is a good thing. I don't know if taxi's have improved or not. I thought competition was good.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 11 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

somedude20 5 years, 11 months ago

Chad, any word on when Minsky's will open?

"UPDATE: I got in touch with Kenny Kantner. He'll be a co-owner of the Lawrence Minsky's location, and he said he expects to open by late April or early May"

Keith 5 years, 11 months ago

"— Businesses would not be part of the program, as currently proposed. A staff memo notes that many businesses already have private contracts for recycling, and some count on revenue from selling recycled materials. "

Good, I'll just incorporate my household and continue doing my own recycling for free.

tomatogrower 5 years, 11 months ago

"I don’t know. But surely state legislators know what they’re doing on this subject. After all, this is the same group that brought us the great exercise in efficiency known as redistricting."

+111111 Love this comment. Republicans, the party of fewer regulations. I wonder which corporation, cough Deffenbaugh, paid to have this regulation?

skinny 5 years, 11 months ago

Ya better be ready for a big fight. I will fight the City on this one tooth and comb!

The government has no business getting into the private sector. That is not what government is supposed to be about. Remember we live in a free country!!

JayhawkFan1985 5 years, 11 months ago

Since when is collecting refuse a private sector business? It isn't in this city and never has been. Curbside recycling is merely a new way to collect tray to divert it from landfills. Im tired of you right wing borrow and spend reactionaries that believe falsely that the private sector is always better than the public sector. Reality demands you believe that there are some things the private sector does better than the public sector AND there are some things the public sector does better than the private sector. In fact, the USA WAS BUILT ON A PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN the public and private sectors with each sector taking the lead in some areas.

irvan moore 5 years, 11 months ago

why don't they just get out of the trash business and let households contract with private companys that can compete by price and service or is that to logical

gccs14r 5 years, 11 months ago

I'd rather not pay more for less, thanks. I'd much rather have the City keep running the trash service and add on recycling. Besides, it's completely wasteful to have 5-6 companies all running the same routes, with each one picking up only 16-20% of the trash on each block, instead of all of it. Or worse, they collude to divide up the city into zones, offeringe service to selected neighborhoods, and you get your choice of two high-priced crummy service providers who force you to use a giant cart in a gawdawful color that they empty whenever they get around to it.

JayhawkFan1985 5 years, 11 months ago

Not to mention each private truck damaging the roads in town...

chzypoof1 5 years, 11 months ago

Come on now beatnik and Skinny...what do you Less government in our lives?

You sound like crazy people to me. How would someone ever stand on their own 2 feet without govt provided mandates like Mandatory Recycling?

Come on now.....



Richard Heckler 5 years, 11 months ago

"If you were hoping state government would find a way to slow cities from starting curbside recycling programs, well, you’re in the right state. "

That somehow cannot be true. How many millions are in the reserve fund? Why do they hand out tax dollar giveaways to developers? Surely there must money for the recycling service.

Where will the additional millions come from for the "West Side Field House" new infrastructure come from?

Face it folks the city commission simply does not want the recycling program. Otherwise they would find the money. Any time a developers need millions for their projects the money magically appears. Or a corporation needs corporate welfare the tax dollars are always there.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 11 months ago

I'm all for allowing the private recyclers to stay in business it's the no money argument I don't buy.

Meanwhile keep recycling dollars as local:

Community Living Opportunities (785) 840-9278

Home Recycling Service (785) 979-6633

Jeff's Curbside Recycling (785) 841-1284 (785) 865-6089 cell

Sunflower Curbside Recycling (785) 550-8610

Tree Hugger Recycling (glass curbside recycling only for households and commercial businesses) (785) 550-6267

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 11 months ago

If the recycling charges are anything like what they charge for other extra services (rollaway dumpsters, for example) it'd cost considerably more than what the city of Lawrence might charge.

kuguardgrl13 5 years, 11 months ago

Glad to see apartments will be included! We don't have the option of a private company for recycling unless the complex provides it. Now I just hope they will accept another bin. I'm all for a recycling program that I can have easy access to. Too much of a hassle to haul stuff down to Walmart and deal with their bureaucracy or shlep it up to campus.

Bill_Slu 5 years, 11 months ago

ahhh yes, mandatory!

and more roundabouts to keep the garbage truck drivers calmer


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 11 months ago

I think roundabouts should be made a litmus test on driving ability-- if you can't figure out how to successfully navigate them, you shouldn't have a DL.

Bill_Slu 5 years, 11 months ago

do you feel calmer after driving around a roundabout?

akuna 5 years, 11 months ago

I feel calmer after driving around a roundabout because I don't have to deal with crappy drivers that don't know the rules to a 4-way stop.

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