Columbia City Council looks to implement roll-cart pilot program

Sunday, September 16, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:49 a.m. CDT, Monday, September 17, 2012

COLUMBIA — Although many Columbia residents have expressed their disdain for a proposal to convert to the roll-cart trash collection system, city staff will attempt on Monday night to convince the Columbia City Council to go forward with a pilot project to test it.

The roll-cart proposal calls for the purchase of 44,000 roll carts and 10 natural gas fueled trucks. Together, those purchases would cost the city an estimated $5 million.


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Since staff from the Public Works Department first offered up the idea in May, Columbia residents have questioned whether or not it's a good one.

Third Ward Councilman Gary Kespohl said he has seen many people attend council and citizens' meetings to oppose the roll-cart trash system and organize against it.

“There have been about 30 or 40 people meeting regularly about this,” he said. “I wanted public input about this, and we’re getting it now.”

Columbia Mayor Bob McDavid said on KFRU/1400 AM that the roll-cart proposal is "dead on arrival" unless the Public Works Department can justify it through cost savings or other advantages that he has yet to see.

Residents plan to present a petition opposing the roll carts to the council at its Monday meeting. Although Kespohl has been openly skeptical about the proposal, he said he would consider alternatives until the council's public hearing Monday on the budget for the fiscal year of 2013.

“It doesn’t seem like there are many, but there are people who are for it,” he said. “I expect testimonies from citizens both good and bad, both for and against. As it stands right now, I’m not in favor of the roll carts, but my mind can change.”

Meanwhile, city staff hopes to go forward with a pilot program, in which 100 households from each of the city’s six wards would experiment with the roll carts to determine their effectiveness. Public Works Department spokesman Steven Sapp said the council could decide Monday to nix the experiment.

“We do not know if a pilot project will proceed or not, nor do we know at this point whether or not an automated trash collection will proceed,” he said. “The council will evaluate the report and decide whether or not they wish for us to proceed with the implementation of a pilot project.”

Sapp said the Public Works Department is accepting the names of people who want to volunteer for the pilot project so that if the council passes the proposal it can proceed as efficiently as possible. There are 96 volunteers so far.

Volunteers would be able to choose the size of their cart, which will come in 48-, 64- and 96-gallon sizes.

If the pilot project goes ahead, the carts will be delivered the last week of December, and the project will continue until the first week of July. Participants will be given surveys before and after the program.

Those who want to volunteer can contact the Public Works Department at 874-7250.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

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Kevin Gamble September 16, 2012 | 11:47 p.m.

I don't understand why this concept is receiving so much time, energy, and attention - it doesn't seem like this issue should be in the top 50 things for city government to be concerned about.

Our present service meets the needs of a predominantly satisfied population, while providing gainful employment to a lot of people. If the workers themselves are calling for a change, then let's hear their voices - but coverage of the issue never seems to go there.

Without more justification, this seems like a solution in search of a problem.

(Report Comment)
Joy Mayer September 17, 2012 | 8:09 a.m.


This issue seems to have struck a real chord with folks. Further evidence, in case you're interested: We pay attention to the Missourian's web analytics, and we can filter the data to show specifically the stories most read by people in Columbia. Stories on this issue have been at or near the top of that list lately.

Joy Mayer,
Columbia Missourian

(Report Comment)

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