City commissioners to discuss solid waste services in Fort Scott

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Fort Scott City Commission plans to discuss the issue of citywide trash service Tuesday at City Hall.

The meeting, intended to be a work study session for commissioners, is planned for 4:30 p.m. in the commission meeting room just prior to the commission's regular meeting at 6 p.m.

The main purpose of the meeting is for commissioners to discuss options that will be presented to them by City Manager Dave Martin regarding trash service in the city.

Martin said the idea to look at trash service originated when Commissioner Sam Mason previously talked about adding trash service to residents' utility bills. Martin talked to commissioners and was asked to research ways to possibly put trash service on customers' water bills and look at other options to address trash problems in the city.

"I was not given a timeframe," Martin said. "It's a touchy issue by the situation."

As part of his research, Martin said he obtained information on how other cities and towns in Kansas run their trash services. He said many cities have citywide contracted trash services, in which the city contracts with one company to take care of trash throughout the city.

In Fort Scott, residents have a choice of which private company they wish to haul off their trash and those companies set rates.

Martin said he will present four options to commissioners during the work session.

One option is for the city to bid out solid waste handling to one vendor for the entire city, with the city handling the monthly billing.

A second option is to split the city into four quadrants and bid out solid waste handling between multiple vendors, with the city handling monthly billing.

The third option involves the city adding a monthly fee to utility bills to fund enhanced codes enforcement.

"Commissioners could decide to add a fee to go along with the ordinance and hire more codes people," Martin said.

Commissioners will also have the option to leave current operations as they are. The second option would allow residents more choices for trash companies.

"One option, as a city, is rather than go with one company, have the customer pick a company if it's a licensed trash hauler that meets city requirements, then they have a choice," Martin said. "This is for current or new customers."

Martin said the city is "not involved in the trash business" and can't legally set prices or fees for trash as it can set rates for its own water utility.

Martin said there is no truth to rumors circulating that the city has already made a decision on the trash service issue and chosen a company for the service. He also said the issue is not related to financial issues Bourbon County has had this year with the county landfill, or the recent closing of the Hill Street Recycling Center.

In July, the city commission did approve a one-year contract with 4-State Sanitation, a local company, in the amount of $950 per month for sanitation service for city facilities and departments. Commissioners went with Martin's recommendation to use 4-State Sanitation as it is locally owned and uses the county landfill.

WCA Waste Corporation of Joplin submitted a bid of $912 per month.

Current city ordinance states residents must have a licensed trash service or have the trash hauled off themselves.

City ordinance regarding trash containers states that "the owners of all multi-family dwellings shall purchase or contract with a licensed solid waste collector for an adequate container to be placed on the site for disposal of tenants' solid waste, and contract with a licensed solid waste collector for the collection, transportation, and disposal of such solid waste."