Mandatory Trash and Recycling Service Debate Continues

It's been a month since the Jefferson City council meeting when citizens stood up and made an outcry about the mandatory trash and recycling service, but the debate is still ongoing.


Mandatory curbside trash and recycling pickup may have begun weeks ago in Jefferson City, but some residents are still fuming at the idea. Those against the service have now come together to form a citizen action committee group. They say they aren’t stopping until they see results. The City though, is standing behind its decision. KBIA’s Tara Grimes reports.

Big blue 65-gallon bins line the streets throughout Jefferson City. Although some are stuffed with recycling and trash, others are empty and have been that way for weeks. For twenty-seven year resident John Ross, an empty bin outside his house is no exception.

He’s just one of a group of residents who is refusing to use the service and says the new mandatory service is too costly for those who produce such a small amount of trash.

“The problem I have is I’m a single individual so I don’t generate that much. In fact there are times when I don’t use those whole ten bags in a quarter and most of my job I’m traveling so I’m not here most of the time so I don’t really generate that much trash,” Ross said.

The debate began heating up when Allied Waste began distributing the bins to each single-family home. Citizens are required to pay $15.34 every month for both trash and recycling. The new system is only forty-six cents more than the old system, but resident Howard Taggart says the fact that the fee is now mandatory is a problem for low-income families.

“A lot of these people can’t afford groceries or milk for their kids and they have to pay this?” Taggart said.

Taggart and Ross are two of about thirty residents who have come together to form a citizen action committee group. The group hopes to create a referendum to advocate an amendment of the ordinance.

City officials say they are looking for solutions, but still believe the system is best for the city. Although residents are no longer allowed to use bags, city councilmember Carrie Carroll says making the program mandatory and not letting residents share bins with their neighbors helps to leverage out the cost among all the citizens.

“In the big picture the way that really worked is people with cart service were essentially subsidizing the bags because the cost of the service was still there, but bag users were simply paying for the bags. They weren’t paying for, really in the big picture, the cost of the service,” Carroll said.

Councilmember Carroll says the new program is, on average, three dollars cheaper than other cities nationwide. Residents in Columbia though, only pay $14.42 a month. But when searching for the best option, Carroll says the council looked at the studies and pilot programs that were done on the system. She says they found it to be the best option in extending the life of the landfill.

“Looking at the landfill and the future, we have about 16 years of life left in it. We’re going to have some big decisions in the future. What we do now is really going to affect that,” Carroll said.

But despite the city’s ongoing efforts to calm the dispute, Ross, like many residents, says he won’t be paying the bill.

“Oh I still have it sitting on my kitchen counter,” Ross said. “We haven’t paid it yet. We’re looking for other avenues in order to circumvent what we have at this point so we’re not barred into this system yet.”

The city council directed people to an online application for low-income assistance. This would lower the monthly bills to thirteen dollars and fifty cents. Tara Grimes, KBIA News.



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