Trash board rejects councilors' requests on bagging, yard waste volume
BY ZACK STOYCOFF World Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
2/20/13 at 8:33 AM
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The city's trash board has rejected two changes requested by city councilors for an ordinance that would formalize the city's new trash system.
City Council Chairman David Patrick:
The ordinance, drafted by the trash board, describes the same rules and definitions that have governed the curbside trash and recycling program system since it began Oct. 1, organizers said.
"Keep in mind that we have to pass an ordinance at some point."
But councilors said at a committee meeting last week that they thought certain rules, including requirements to bag all trash and limit yard waste to 50 percent of a trash cart's volume, were harsher or more complicated than previously advertised.
The trash board, formally called the Tulsa Authority for the Recovery of Energy, decided Tuesday not to remove those requirements.
Solid Waste Manager Eric Lee said he will report those decisions to city councilors Thursday.
The new ordinance would replace one that describes the former trash system and includes provisions outlining rate structures, rules for where and how to dispose of trash; and definitions of trash, green waste and recyclable material.
"Keep in mind that we have to pass an ordinance at some point," council Chairman David Patrick said. "We're operating a system now with no ordinance."
Councilor Skip Steele said last week that he opposes the requirement to place all trash in plastic bags. Councilor Jack Henderson questioned its necessity, and Councilor G.T. Bynum said he also wanted to allow residents to use paper bags.
Lee told the trash board that the bagging requirement was included for health reasons and that permitting uncontained trash would expose residents and trash workers to the contents of the trash.
The board also did not decide to allow paper bags.
Steele said more residents call him with complaints about the bagging requirement than over any other trash issue.
"Anything that requires a customer to put trash in a bag, I've got a problem with that," he said.
Requiring that trash be bagged might be asking residents to do too much, he added.
Henderson said one possible reason for bagging trash - to keep animals away from it - is pointless because animals are able to chew through plastic bags.
Bynum and Councilor Jeannie Cue said they also oppose a provision limiting the amount of green waste in a cart to 50 percent, but trash board members said Tuesday that the provision is necessary to ensure that the city's green-waste system is used.
Since a three-month waiver ended Feb. 1, the city has required residents to place a 50-cent green-waste sticker on bags or bundles of yard waste that are not placed in a cart.
The yard waste is picked up by separate crews who take it to a special green-waste facility.
Other requested changes included tightening a provision governing the placement of trash carts on noncollection days to require residents to place them out of sight; changing the earliest hour a cart may be placed at the curb on the night before the collection day to 5 p.m. from 6 p.m.; and making allowances to a requirement that residents keep trash bins closed for when wind blows them open or collection crews fail to close them.
The trash board did not object to those requests.
Several councilors have also said they strongly oppose a provision giving the city's administration authority to change the ordinance at any time, but a representative of the city's Legal Department told the trash board Tuesday that the City Charter gives the mayor direct authority over the trash system, so revising that provision would not be possible.
Original Print Headline: Trash board snubs council on bags
Zack Stoycoff 918-581-8486
A mechanical claw tips a trash can into a truck as Brent Caldwell drives his route in a neighborhood near 81st Street and Elwood Avenue in Tulsa. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World