Archive for Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Trash carts get a push

June 13, 2012


Maybe a trash cart will be the newest look for Halloween in Lawrence.

City commissioners on Tuesday took their largest step yet to create a trash system that mandates the use of city-issued carts instead of standard trash cans or bags.

Commissioners unanimously agreed to seek bids to purchase more than 20,000 trash carts, and said that if all goes well, the carts could be in place by the end of October.

But commissioners still have one major issue left to answer before finalizing the program: cost.

City staff members are recommending a system where trash rates stay the same for most residents and are reduced slightly for about 7,000 other households. But commissioners said they wanted to be presented with an option that would reduce rates for a larger number of customers, especially those customers who generate very little trash.

“I think we want to encourage smaller amounts of trash to be put out,” said City Commissioner Mike Amyx. “But I think we really have to create an incentive to do that.”

Commissioners at their weekly meeting said the cart system may allow them to create such an incentive. As proposed the cart system would offer three sizes of carts for households. A 65-gallon cart would be the standard size, a 90-gallon cart would be issued for larger producers, and a 35-gallon cart would be available for generators of small amounts of trash.

But under the current proposal, households that sign up for the 35-gallon cart will pay the same price as someone who has the 65-gallon cart.

Several residents told commissioners on Tuesday such an arrangement wasn’t fair.

“A reduced rate for reduced trash would be a useful slogan for the city to adopt,” said Bill Mitchell, a Lawrence resident who estimated his household sets out only about 5 gallons of trash per week.

Commissioners said they wanted to see a financial analysis of how the city could issue a discount for residents who use the smaller cart. Staff members said they would produce the analysis within the next two weeks, but also expressed concern about offering an immediate discount for the 35-gallon cart.

Tammy Bennett, assistant director of public works, told commissioners a discount may cause many people to choose the 35-gallon cart when the amount of trash they generate is more suitable for a 65- or 90-gallon cart. The result could be, she said, large numbers of trash bags left beside the new carts. The city is trying to eliminate people using cans or bags for their trash because it makes it difficult for the city to use automated trucks, which the city says will reduce worker compensation costs and make the system more efficient.

Under the staff-recommended plan, about 7,000 households that currently rent a cart from the city would see their monthly trash rate decline. Here’s how:

• Households that currently rent a 65-gallon cart from the city pay a $1.50-per-month fee for the cart. Under the proposed system that monthly fee would be eliminated.

• Households that currently rent a 90-gallon cart from the city pay a $2-per-month fee for the cart. Under the proposed system that fee would be reduced to $1 per month.

Commissioners did hear from one member of the public who urged the city to put the cart plan on hold and instead study whether the city ought to turn the trash system over to a private operator.

“I think you are getting the cart before the horse here,” said Jim Mullins, a Lawrence resident and a field director for Americans for Prosperity.

Commissioners on Tuesday did not have any discussion about privatizing the city trash service.

In other news, commissioners did discuss creating a curbside recycling system. Commissioners on a 5-0 vote approved a “resolution of intent” that formally declares the city will study options for a citywide curbside recycling program.

But commissioners did not discuss any of the major details related to a curbside program, and also noted the resolution does not commit the city to start a curbside program. But the resolution does give staff members the authority to spend the next 90 days working on a request for proposals that could be sent to private companies interested in operating a citywide curbside recycling system.


Richard Heckler 5 years, 9 months ago

Jim Mullins is one of the local radical republicans who believes that putting locals out of work is good for the economy. He loves corporate welfare. Can we say facism..... I say yes.

Flap Doodle 5 years, 9 months ago

If you use up all the hyperbole now, you'll have none left for when you really need it.

workinghard 5 years, 9 months ago

Mullins just lost all credibility with me. We would not get near the service we get now with the city employees. I was behind a city truck the other day on a major street when it passed a dead animal in the street. They stopped and scooped it up before it could be turned into a gross mess. Do you think Deffenbaugh would have done that? Has he read the reviews on their service, it's terrible.

seriouscat 5 years, 9 months ago

yup...just Google Deffenbaugh Kansas City...and the fact that they are a subsidiary of a part of the foreign owned Suisse Credit group. Gimme a break.

kef104 5 years, 9 months ago

The proposal is to buy new trucks from venders outside of Lawrence, buy new trash carts from venders outside of Lawrence, have Lawrence residents throw away all their current trash cans, and then "save" money by laying off Lawrence workers. Those Lawrence workers would earn money and spend it locally, which would generate sales taxes, etc. So, to maybe save a few dollars, we send our money out of town and reduce local earnings. Remember, this is a maybe savings as the cost of services will probably go up, which means there is not any savings or the cost of services would be significantly cut for everyone.

Personally, the system is not broke as is. I put out my minimal trash, as in a small bag every 2 to 3 weeks, recycle all most everything already, and I cost the city almost nothing to do so.

giantstogie 5 years, 9 months ago

what about people that have bought carts. I own 2 carts. 90 gallon carts. I spent big bucks on these carts. will I still be able to use them?

Mark Zwahl 5 years, 9 months ago

"Tammy Bennett, assistant director of public works, told commissioners a discount may cause many people to choose the 35-gallon cart when the amount of trash they generate is more suitable for a 65- or 90-gallon cart. The result could be, she said, large numbers of trash bags left beside the new carts."

Tammy Bennett is confusing the problems related to initial implementation of a new strategy, with the overall vision of a strategy successfully implemented. Of course there will be confusion at the beginning and some people will make poor choices. In larger cities there are consequences for that, and i think they're called fines. So they need a TRANSITION plan (i.e. # of weeks before fines are implemented etc.).

irvan moore 5 years, 9 months ago

tammy bennett owes the citizens of lawrence an apology, insulting the taxpayers who pay her salary is disgraceful, shame on you

Erin England 5 years, 9 months ago

I think it would be more beneficial to invest in a curb-side recycling program instead of spending money on 20,000 trash carts and then knocking 50 cents off a bill while trying to convince us all it's a "reduced rate." That's nothing!

Curb-side recycling is very handy and would definitely reduce waste. Wichita has curb-side recycling. They give the citizens large bins where you can throw cardboard, plastic, plastic sacks, cans, etc, all together. You don't have to separate anything and you put out the recycling bin just like your trash. It's so easy! I think Lawrence would benefit greatly from this service.

Our current recycling system in Lawrence is anything but easy. You have to separate everything, find the nearest recycling bins. Load it all in your car (and some of us do not have much room in our vehicles!). Then when you do find recycling bins, they usually don't have a bin for everything you need to recycle! It is a great hassle and I believe that is why many residents don't bother with it!

parrothead8 5 years, 9 months ago

Or you can pay Deffenbaugh $5 a month to do a weekly pickup of everything except glass, and just throw all your recyclables into the free cart they give you without worrying about separating it.

LadyJ 5 years, 9 months ago

They've raised their rates a bit from that.

jafs 5 years, 9 months ago

Not surprising - what are the current rates if you know?

Anne Hamilton 5 years, 9 months ago

It is still $5/ mo. You just pay it in 3 month chunks, so I get a $15 bill every 3 mo.

LadyJ 5 years, 9 months ago

Really, my 3 month bill is $17.48. Has been for a while

JackMcKee 5 years, 9 months ago

It's funny that a city that pays for empty 20,000 pound buses to drive around is so concerned about the efficiency of its garbage collection.

Whose idea was this in the first place? I'll give you one guess. He's the worst city commissioner in 50 years.

JackMcKee 5 years, 9 months ago

Does anyone really believe this nonsense about the costs associated with this idea? I want an I independent audit. This sounds like as big a like of b.s. as Cromwell's other big ideas. The man has no shame when it comes to his ideological whims. The left's version of Sam Brownback. We are so lucky.

JackMcKee 5 years, 9 months ago

Of course it might not be a case of intentionally misleading the town, this is the same group that studied garbage collection for a year without even knowing State law on the matter. These people are professionals, folks.

malehrman 5 years, 9 months ago

Does anyone know the cost of an "independent" audit? Would it be "independent" if still paid for by city tax dollars? Or would the City Auditor's already completed audit suffice?

JackMcKee 5 years, 9 months ago

funny, at the same time the city is planning to procure 20,000 trash carts my water and sewer rates are going up 4%. But the trash is staying the same. Interesting how that works when you can adjust numbers anyway you want.

I'm talking about an independent study by a CPA firm. This city seems incompetent, dishonest or both. This is the same city that artificially inflated its empty bus ridership as propaganda. They are the same people that misled the public on the library/parking garage. You know, for our own good I'm sure. As others have already noted the decision was made before this trash commission started and it's pretty clear that the public's input has not been considered.

paulveer 5 years, 9 months ago

As reported here, nothing of substance has changed from original proposals as a result of all of the task force meetings. Also, nothing was changed due to public input, be it informal, such as comments here, or from official public comment sessions. I suppose that the original proposals could have been so perfect that they could not be improved upon by input from such an intelligent board or an engaged public, but it all appears to be a sham to me, attempting to steer the public to very specific preconceived objectives

paulveer 5 years, 9 months ago

Two questions in particular (actually, I have many) that I believe should be addressed in this discussion: 1. What research is available and/or has been used to determine the costs and feasibility of lowering work comp costs by training, strictly enforcing (existing) trash weight limits, tougher screening standards for potential employees for fitness, or even lowering the weight limit? 2. What research is available and/or has been used to determine the value of dollars spent out of the community (presumably to lower costs) on state of the art trucks, versus wages paid to local employees that will be spent and taxed multiple times within the community?

JackMcKee 5 years, 9 months ago

and let's not forget that these trucks will at some point have to be replaced, it's not buy them once and use them forever. How much higher are the maintenance costs on these trucks? Does anyone really have confidence in the city's analysis of this idea? I know I don't. It doesn't even pass the smell test. I bet that analysis made assumptions that were heavily skewed in favor of adoption of the plan.

LadyJ 5 years, 9 months ago

ROFL. They make a big deal out of saving 50 cents on your bill, then LJW posts this headline "city proposing 4 percent hike in water, sewer rates; city estimates $2.4 M needed for rec center infrastructure" How long does it take you break even on that 50 cents after your tax dollars are used to buy the new trash cans and trucks? Now the estimate on the cost of the new rec center goes up $2.4 M. Whether they list it as a separate cost from the construction cost, in the end, it all adds up to the same.

JackMcKee 5 years, 9 months ago

funny how that works, isn't it. They think we're stupid.

JackMcKee 5 years, 9 months ago

People did show up. The City Commission ignored them. So what do you propose? A garbage rebellion?

LadyJ 5 years, 9 months ago

Of course they don't tell you how many e-mails they get about it. I would like to see the numbers on those, for and against. I already have a city trash can, but that is my choice. Others may have a different choice.

LadyJ 5 years, 9 months ago

They haven't said what they plan to do for people with disabilities or the elderly. Will they be allowed to have two 35 gallon containers instead of a 65 gallon, if they want, at no extra cost so they would be easier to move?

LadyJ 5 years, 9 months ago

Personally, I like Englande's idea about spending the money on a recycling system instead.

pace 5 years, 9 months ago

I love my cart, very easy to use. I park it slightly behind a tree and put it out the evening before. I would consider moving if they used Deffenbaugh. Worked with them on various projects for decades. I would not let them on my property. Their great deals, are always too good to be true. A bad bunch. The state law enacted last year designed to control how a community should decide it's service design, is more Brownback control. He should resign.

JackMcKee 5 years, 9 months ago

yea but do you have a weed infested yard with a "garden"

pace 5 years, 9 months ago

You seem a bit odd, I have a beautiful yard. I wish you would not pass personal remarks. They sound stupid and spiteful, oh, I mean spiteful and stupid.

JackMcKee 5 years, 9 months ago

which is your favorite type of plant in your gorgeous yard? crabgrass, nutsedge, ragweed or clover?

pace 5 years, 9 months ago

I am sorry, you don't seem to understand good manners. You pass stupid personal remarks. Out of pride, I will answer your rude, personal and irrelevant questions. My favorite are the rosemary bushes. The ones the neighbor's like the most are the roses.
Your personal remarks don't sound stupid and spiteful, they are stupid and spiteful.

Sunny Parker 5 years, 9 months ago

I will begin to burn my trash in my back yard!

JackMcKee 5 years, 9 months ago

you don't have to, just drive to the nearest apartment complex. I guarantee there is one within a few blocks of your home thanks to the geniuses at the planning Commision

jafs 5 years, 9 months ago

Just curious - what exactly do you love about Lawrence?

I can't remember a single positive post from you, honestly.

HowardStern 5 years, 9 months ago

mmmm, yum. Your neighbors will love the dioxins that waft from your yard to theirs. Pass the toast, please.

JackMcKee 5 years, 9 months ago

By the way, Jafs, when I purchased my home, 12 years ago, the area by my residence was zoned for a retirement complex. It's next to SW Junior High. Instead, the planning Commision decided to let 4 apartment complexes sprout up on the spot. Not that this could make someone angry or anything.

jafs 5 years, 9 months ago

Still waiting for all of the things you love about Lawrence, of which I've heard nothing from you at all.

Things change over time - city management, zoning, etc. That's just part of life, isn't it?

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