The Unified Government Commission on Thursday night advanced a modified version of a pilot trash program.
The proposal was changed so that the UG would get community comments from three neighborhoods where the test program is proposed, then bring it back to the UG Commission for approval before starting the program.
Also, the idea to give the trash company money or credits for this program was opposed by some UG commissioners, and the UG administrator said that is currently under negotiation.
The pilot program for an automated cart system for trash collection, if approved by the UG Commission, would affect three neighborhoods for six months. The neighborhoods are Strawberry Hill, North Ridge in Piper Estates, and Highland Crest. A total of about 1,000 households are in the test areas.
Under the proposal discussed Thursday night, residents in the three test neighborhoods would be given one 95-gallon trash can for trash and one 95-gallon can for recycling. Trash would be picked up each week, and recycling would be picked up every two weeks.
Anyone who had more trash than would fit in the 95-gallon can could purchase a sticker for $1.25 for each additional bag of trash that they had, or could sign up for an additional trash cart for an additional $5 a month more. For example, residents who put lawn clippings into trash bags would have to fit it inside the 95-gallon can with the rest of their trash, or get a sticker to pay for additional bags. Alternately, some residents might put lawn clippings into mulch piles to be recycled on their lawns or gardens.
While the recycling would be changed from its weekly collection to every two weeks under the plan, the amount of recycling would be unlimited, according to UG staff, and residents would not have to pay additional fees for extra bags of recycling items.
UG staff members explained that the purpose of the change was to increase recycling in Kansas City, Kansas, and keep recyclables out of the landfills. According to staff, residents are not recycling as much as they would like them to, and that is concerning with the limited amount of space available in landfills. Kansas City, Kansas, was well under the state average for recycling, according to UG staff.
The proposal also would reduce the amount of heavy trash truck travel on the city streets, reducing street repairs, according to officials.
In addition, the UG’s community survey found that some residents were concerned about trash in neighborhoods, and staff felt that these changes would reduce trash in the neighborhoods.
When the issue was proposed at an April UG Committee meeting, the Wyandotte Daily received more comments about it than any other issue in the past few months.
Commissioner Jane Philbrook said the current trash pickup system was created to take care of the community, because there was a lot of trash. The community has moved past that a little bit, but she said she realizes the community still needs carriers to pick up the trash and really do it. She added she had more complaints than ever before when Waste Management took over from Deffenbaugh. She was concerned about whether they would follow through and be good partners.
Commissioner Mike Kane took issue with the pilot program, and the procedure used to advance it, saying that two UG commissioners should have been in the discussions before the issue advanced this far.
Kane said the UG and the commissioners have received more than 3,000 complaints about trash service since it switched from Deffenbaugh to Waste Management.
Kane, who is in the 5th District, said the trash at his home this week, which should have been picked up Monday, wasn’t picked up until 6:45 a.m. Tuesday. He thought it was not a good idea to give them a new program when the commissioners are still getting complaints about how they do the current trash program.
“Why don’t you do your job first?” he asked. “If I did my job like this, I’d get fired.”
Kane suggested putting two UG commissioners on the committee with staff that is working on the pilot trash program. The rest of the commission agreed, and Commissioners Angela Markley and Brian McKiernan were chosen. McKiernan did not attend the meeting, and Commissioner Melissa Bynum, who was the mayor pro tem for the evening, said she would be the alternate member in case McKiernan could not be on the committee.
The trash pilot program wasn’t an emergency, Kane said, and more time should have been spent getting commissioner and public feedback before starting it.
Other commissioners also remarked on their trash pickup. Commissioner Gayle Townsend, in the 1st District, said her trash pickup day was Tuesday and it had still not been picked up on Thursday morning. Commissioner Ann Brandau Murguia, in the 3rd District, said that her trash day was Thursday, and while it used to be picked up in the morning, it was still there after 5 p.m. Thursday this week. Sometimes commissioners get calls from residents whose trash was picked up after dark and who do not want to go outside after it gets dark to bring their trash cans inside.
Commissioner Townsend said one of the trial areas should probably include areas with Housing Authority issues. She also said she is concerned about increased costs for her constituents. She said some residents might say that they cannot afford the increased costs to their trash service.
UG Administrator Doug Bach said one of the reasons for bringing this forward was based on future costs. The UG’s costs will continue to escalate unless something is done about the volume of trash, according to Bach. He said they wanted to put the community in a good position for the future, by increasing recycling, or costs would continue to go up.
Commissioner Brandau Murguia said that she is not opposed to the concept of the pilot trash program, she was concerned about adding another idea to a provider that was not able to do their job currently.
Commissioners Kane and Tom Burroughs voted against the motion to advance the modified trash pilot program, which passed 7-2. After discussions with the community, the pilot program would have to come back for approval to the UG Commission before it could start.