Lawrence City Commission to consider study to evaluate trash rates; rates expected to change

photo by: Nick Krug

City of Lawrence solid waste division workers empty containers into the back of a trash truck in this file photo from December 2009.

Lawrence city commissioners will soon decide whether to hire a consultant to study the city’s solid waste service and the collection rates charged to Lawrence residents.

Currently, residential customers pay $18.80 per month for trash and recycling collection, and commercial customers pay a wide range of fees based on the size of container and number of pickups per month, according to the city’s fee schedule. However, it has been several years since the last cost analysis, and Solid Waste Division Manager Kathy Richardson said the city doesn’t know at this point whether the current rates are in line with the city’s costs.

“The current trash rates were developed years ago based on cost of service, and that includes everything from the trucks and personnel to the containers and so forth, including the landfill fee,” Richardson said. “So there are a lot of different components that go into that.”

The city advertised a request for proposal for the study in December, and city staff is recommending that the commission approve a contract with Burns & McDonnell for $59,140 for the Solid Waste Rate Study, according to a city staff memo to the commission. The memo states that although the contract falls within the threshold for city manager approval, the action will result in development of a comprehensive solid waste rate model that will guide future rate decisions.

The proposed study follows a similar review of the trash rates for downtown businesses, which have their own unique model. Last year, the city found that close to 150 downtown businesses had been charged incorrect trash rates, some for several years. However, after analyzing the rates, city leaders decided they would not retroactively bill or credit those customers because the rate structure the city had been using was flawed and actually overcharged customers.

Richardson said the proposed study would provide an updated analysis of the costs for all the services the city provides, including residential and commercial trash, recycling and yard waste collection.

The study proposed by Burns & McDonnell includes a review of solid waste division billing data, completion of a cost of service analysis, cost allocation, development of service rates, and presentation of study results, according to the memo.

• In other business, the city will consider another study to analyze the stormwater rates. City staff is recommending a consulting agreement with Raftelis Financial Consultants for $47,700 for that study.

The City Commission will convene at 5 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St.


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