COLUMBIA - The idea of charging city refuse customers based on the amount of garbage they leave on the curb has resurfaced once again.
A report reviewed by the Columbia City Council on Monday from Public Works Director John Glascock explained that residents would be charged a base fee for a certain number of bags and an additional fee for extra bags.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency's Web site, more than 7,000 communities across the country use some form of pay-as-you-throw approach.
Columbia garbage customers currently pay a base fee of $14.42 per month for trash collection. Recycling pickup and lawn clippings collection would remain free under a pay-as-you-throw approach, the report stated.
The program would help sustain the environment and economy by promoting recycling and reducing the production of refuse, as well as the potential to generate additional funds that could be used to finance the waste management and recycling systems in the community, according to the report.
This isn’t the first time the council has heard about pay-as-you-throw. Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe requested a report on itin September 2006 from the city's Solid Waste Division. No previous action was taken by the council, Hoppe said, because the city has not provided a full report or analysis of such a program.
The report reviewed by the council on Monday was requested by First Ward Councilman Paul Sturtz, said City Clerk Sheela Amin. At the meeting, Sturtz said a pay-as-you-throw program in Olympia, Wash., was so successful that trash pickup moved from a weekly to biweekly schedule. He also said that recycling increased, on average, 17 percent nationwide in communities with a pay-as-you-throw approach.
City Manager Bill Watkins told the council that waste management staff is afraid that moving to a pay-as-you-throw approach would lead to illegal dumping of waste in public places.
Second Ward Councilman Jason Thornhill said he owns a building with business partners where illegal dumping already occurs.
“We inherit a couch and appliances almost weekly,” he said.
Third Ward Councilman Karl Skalasaid the council’s evaluation of the project was not data driven and no investigation had been done. Skala suggested, however, that the program might warrant further investigation.
Fourth Ward Councilman Jerry Wade said the council has too many issues at the present time and would like to hold off on further discussion of it until October.