Trash collection has remained a hot topic for the current Columbia City Council, mayoral candidates, and the community.
City council members will hear from residents on Monday evening before voting on whether to remove language that currently bans the use of rolling carts in the city or return the issue to voters in August.
Columbia voters in 2016 approved banning rolling carts.
Two ordinances are on council’s agenda after a successful petition to reassess the rubbish collection system. An order asks the council to lift the ban on rolling carts and automated collection vehicles for carts. The other order, if passed instead, would put the issue back on the ballot for the Aug. 2 election.
Rachel Proffitt, who created the citizen petition leading to the vote, last month expressed her preference for the council to remove language banning rolling carts rather than put the issue back on the public ballot.
For a petition to be considered by council, signatures equivalent to at least 20% of the number of votes cast in the last regular municipal election must be obtained. In this case, Proffitt needed 3,219. According to the city clerk’s certification, Proffitt’s petition received 3,244 signatures from registered voters.
Proffitt, a professor at the University of Missouri, spent nearly two years collecting signatures, she said.
“I initially decided to go ahead because I couldn’t see anyone else doing anything and I wanted to make a difference,” Proffitt said. “I’m a scientist, I’m a clinician. Not having all the options available to me to make a good, informed, evidence-based decision drove me crazy.”
Current council members who recently responded to questions from the Tribune on the subject agree that the garbage system needs to be addressed.
Monday’s vote is “a chance for council to practice courageous leadership and make decisions to move our city forward because that’s what we were elected to do,” wrote City Council member Andrea Waner. second quarter, in an email to the Tribune.
“We have an obligation to remove this language from our ordinances so we can have a legitimate discussion about how we can clean up our city, protect our workers, and invest in long-term sustainability efforts,” Waner wrote.
Third Ward councilman Karl Skala favors sending the issue back to voters, fearing it might ‘deprive’ voters who passed the original rolling cart ban ordinance, he said at the Tribune during a recent interview.
“We will find a way according to what people want,” Skala said. “I just need to know what (people) want and if that has changed.”
The bin system does not meet the necessary standards, First Ward council member Pat Fowler wrote in a recent Facebook post.
She did not directly explain which direction she was leaning to vote on Monday.
“The implementation of the current collection system, where we have to use an official stamped bag of poor quality, was not what the garbage collectors asked for,” Fowler wrote. “They asked for a limit of five bags per residential address and relief from having to pick up furniture, appliances and other heavy items on regular routes.”
The system had a “disproportionate” effect on low-income families and seniors who may have more waste due to medical conditions, Fowler wrote.
“I never thought the sack of the city idea was a good one, which is why I’ve always voted against anything to do with the current system,” wrote Matt Pitzer, board member of the Fifth Ward, in an email to the Tribune. “I will vote for anything that helps our tangle of issues, including worker safety and retention, ease of use for our customers, and more efficient collection.”
Lauren Tronstad covers local government and politics for the Tribune. Reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @LaurenTronstad.