COLUMBIA — The Columbia City Council voted 4-3 to repeal the ban on rolling carts at its Monday night meeting. The vote lifts a ban the city had put in place in March 2016.
This decision only removes the ban and does not introduce a new garbage collection system.
The Council’s decision ensures that the issue will not be added to the Aug. 2 ballot.
The council vote was a special election brought about by Fifth Ward Councilman Matt Pitzer. Pitzer initially requested the vote through a policy in city code that allows issues to be reviewed within 90 days of an initial vote.
Pitzer felt that the two new members of the city council should have a say in the decision regarding the rolling carts. Mayor Barbara Buffaloe and Fourth Ward Councilman Nick Foster were not part of the initial April 4 vote. Former Mayor Brian Treece and former Councilor Ian Thomas voted against repealing the rolling cart ban at the April 4 meeting.
On Monday, Mayor Buffaloe voted in favor and Nick Foster voted against repealing the ban.
The city estimates that removing the rolling ballot cart issue will save the city about $114,000.
Several council members, including Karl Skala and Nick Foster, said the city’s adoption of a hybrid approach to garbage collection was “inevitable”. Such a system would allow residents to use both trash bags and rolling carts.
The search for alternatives comes as the city struggles to fill 37 garbage collection vacancies. These labor shortages began in 2015.
With an automated rolling cart system, waste workers would no longer need to ride in the back of city garbage trucks. At a May 2 pre-board meeting, the solid waste department said such a move would improve working conditions for workers.
During this meeting, council watched a video of a garbage worker repeatedly falling from the back of a moving garbage truck. Council members repeatedly referenced the video during their Monday evening meeting, describing their shock.
A representative for solid waste workers said he doesn’t care whether the city lifts the ban at its Monday meeting. The group asked the city to include them in any changes to the garbage collection system.
The council also approved a 3% wage increase for city employees who are not part of a union and employees of the Water and Light Association. The increase will take effect on May 15. The city estimates the increases will cost $3 million a year.
The compensation proposal also includes two one-time payments for city employees. The first will award $1,500 to workers who held a permanent position with the City from March 20, 2020 to June 26. The second awards $750 to employees who held a permanent position from January 9, 2022 to June 26.
City Council approved a $1.6 million expansion of the MU Health Care Pavilion. The pavilion hosts the Columbia Farmers Market.
According to the order, a grant from the US Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration will cover 80% of the project’s funding. The remaining funds will come from municipal tax relief and an agreement with the Missouri Development Finance Board.
These upgrades include expanding the east and west wings of the pavilion roof so that the entire Farmers’ Market pavilion can eventually cover all 98 stalls. Improvements are expected to begin this fall, with an expected completion date of spring 2023, according to the memo.