City may require residents to hire trash pick up service
Carl J. Bachus | culture editor
In November 2012, Pittsburg organized a Solid Waste Task Force to combat what the city considers a major garbage issue.
The task force is to discuss ways to improve the way trash services operate in the city and how to get the community to comply. The task force came to an agreement to work with the city’s regular trash hauling firms to make a list of residents without trash service and require them to get one.
“This is an issue because it touches many aspects of building a quality community,” said Daron Hall, city manager. “In this case, having an efficient and effective method for disposing of the solid waste generated in Pittsburg improves the quality of life for all the residents, including the students at PSU.”
Led by Blake Benson, president of the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce, and Monica Murnan, of Greenbush Educational Center, the task force is comprised of trash hauling firms, city officials and residents such as Jim Triplett, professor of biology at PSU.
Hall says that about 30 percent of Pittsburg area residents do not have trash service, and he is in favor of making trash pickup a part of the monthly utilities bill. With this new policy, residents would be required to have a trash pickup service or be brought before the municipal court.
“The city just wants to make sure everyone is disposing of their trash in a legal manner,” Hall said.
Hall says that some area residents are known to burn their garbage. Burning waste is illegal under Kansas state law, yet it still manages to happen in Pittsburg, Frontenac and Arma.
“The idea is to make sure everyone has a paid trash service to cut down on waste that clutters the city and to try and do away with illegal methods of disposal, like trash burning,” said Devin Gorman, vice president of operations for the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce.
Some students, like Micah Black, view the initiative as an unnecessary burden on residents or households with low or fixed incomes.
“I haven’t even noticed a major trash problem here in Pittsburg,” said Black, junior in political science and French. “This is one of the more impoverished regions of Kansas and I think that, while it’s good to find ways to eliminate trash burning, if the city is going to require people pay for a service, there needs to be an affordable option.”
Kelley Macek, senior in communication, says she is aware of the solid waste problem and agrees with the city’s decision. However, she says she believes that these changes were brought about to make the city more money rather than to simply clean up the streets.
“It’s a trashy situation,” Macek said, “You could bring them to municipal court and fine them, which would put a bit of an extra burden on people with, say, fixed incomes.”
Macek, who is a homeowner, says that she believes that Pittsburg residents have no leeway in this situation and that homeowners have a duty to dispose of their trash responsibly.
“As a homeowner, you pay taxes to the city to occupy that land,” Macek said, “you have a responsibility to the community to get rid of your own garbage.”
Hall says that fines would be an absolute last resort and most cases would likely end in a visit to municipal court.
As for the prospect of whether leeway would be granted to residents in bad financial situations, Hall says that those decisions lie with the trash hauling firms.
“The topic was left unresolved,” he said. “We just want 100 percent compliance with the ordinance. That doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone with have to pay – they’d take that up with the haulers – we just want compliance.”