Columbia City Council Considers Trash Collection Alternatives Ahead of Rolling Cart Vote | Central Missouri News

COLOMBIA — Columbia City Council is set to vote on repealing its ban on rolling carts at its Monday night meeting. The ban has been in effect for six years.

If council members decide to repeal the ban on rolling carts, that decision would remove the question from the Aug. 2 ballot.

First Ward Councilman Pat Fowler pointed to the fact that Columbia residents collected thousands of signatures to put this issue to a vote. She says the fact that the board made this decision undermines that.

“I think if we shorten this decision, we’re missing an opportunity to broaden support for all the changes we plan to implement,” Fowler said.

The city council initially rejected outright removal of the ban in a 4-3 vote at its April 4 meeting. At the same meeting, the council voted to leave the future of the rolling cart ban to voters.

At the April 18 city council meeting, Fifth Ward Councilman Matt Pitzer used a mechanism in city code that allows previous ideas that had previously been canceled by city council to be resubmitted in the 90 days. The board approved the motion by a vote of 4 to 2.

Pitzer argued that new city council members Mayor Barbara Buffaloe and Fourth Ward Councilor Nick Foster should be given the opportunity to voice their opinions since the council’s initial vote took place the day before the April 5 election. . Both Buffaloe and Foster voted in favor of the motion.

“We’ve been completely unresponsive in terms of responding to all the concerns and criticisms we’ve heard about our waste system,” Pitzer said at the time.

Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala opposed the move, saying lifting the ban on rolling carts would silence the will of voters.

“Since this was established by a referendum, I don’t want to disenfranchise the people who initially – in 2016 – put it on the ballot and in ordinances,” Skala said.

Voters implemented the ban in March 2016 after approving a referendum banning the use of rolling carts for garbage collection. It was adopted with 54% of the votes.

Council heard a presentation from the city’s Solid Waste Utility on possible options to improve the city’s garbage collection system if the rolling cart ban is lifted during a May 2 pre-council meeting.

The utility introduced four approaches to managing garbage collection in the future:

  • Privatize the collections
  • Eliminate the required logo bag program and allow residents to use standard trash bags
  • Automate collections using rolling carts and specialized trucks
  • Continue with current logo bag program

Utilities officials pushed back on privatizing garbage collection at the meeting. While this option would mean the city wouldn’t have to deal with garbage and recycling in the future, officials fear the move could cut jobs and include a long and complicated transition.

Another alternative, if the city lifts the ban, is to automate Columbia’s garbage collection system. This decision would improve working conditions for waste workers since workers would not have to ride in the back of garbage trucks.

However, city officials estimate that adopting the new system would cost the city about $10,165,000 in one-time costs. But the city says that cost would be amortized since it would no longer buy the city-branded bags currently in use.

The search for alternatives comes as the city struggles to fill 37 garbage collection vacancies. These labor shortages began in 2015.

The city says it currently serves 900 homes per waste route, which is at the limit of what they can reliably serve. New hires would allow the city to increase its number of routes from 40 to 45 and bring the number of homes served per route below a more manageable level of 800.