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Archive for Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Trash carts get a push

June 13, 2012

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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.

Comments

JackMcKee 1 year, 10 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.

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HowardStern 1 year, 10 months ago

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

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sunny 1 year, 10 months ago

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

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pace 1 year, 10 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.

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LadyJ 1 year, 10 months ago

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

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LadyJ 1 year, 10 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?

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Keith Richards 1 year, 10 months ago

Funny thing is Jack, everyone here is stupid. Complaining on a message board does nothing. If everyone on here that is against this plan showed up at the city commission meeting to complain that would be a different story. All you are doing here is wasting your own time.

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LadyJ 1 year, 10 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.

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paulveer 1 year, 10 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?

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paulveer 1 year, 10 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

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JackMcKee 1 year, 10 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.

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JackMcKee 1 year, 10 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.

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toe 1 year, 10 months ago

There is no stopping the desire of total control by the city. It is the result of so many agents of government, the unrelenting army of bureaucrats fed by the tax dollars they never create. But, one day, they will run out of money and it will end. That day will become a national holiday.

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oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 10 months ago

Five Commissioners have wrecked yet anoher department. At least Sanitation, Planning , Neighborhood Resources will all soon be equally bad. Bad and sad it is.

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Erin England 1 year, 10 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!

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irvan moore 1 year, 10 months ago

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

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sowhatnow 1 year, 10 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.).

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Keith Richards 1 year, 10 months ago

Why do these articles never have any estimated cost savings details? They consistently mention the savings from reduced workers comp, employee attrition, and reduced dump costs, but somehow we never get the details.

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giantstogie 1 year, 10 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?

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kef104 1 year, 10 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.

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workinghard 1 year, 10 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.

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Flap Doodle 1 year, 10 months ago

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

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Les Blevins 1 year, 10 months ago

It seems to me that the operators of the landfill must be controlling the deliberations on this issue and are keeping the old and outdated axiom in place that the city's refuse is a liability that the city must collect and pay to dispose of instead of a resource the city could be collecting and utilizing as a valuable resource and thereby save residents some money. I think prosperity comes quicker to those who are able to convert their liabilities into assets than to those who prolong expenses and purchase trouble and difficulties. Shouldn't we be looking at reducing the tonnage going into the gate at the landfill instead of quibbling over the size and costs of trash carts?

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 10 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.

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