The trash task force’s efforts began on Wednesday with a two-hour meeting largely dedicated to housekeeping.



During the meeting, the trash task force set up its own business for the next couple of months, including goals, priorities, and method of doing business. The task force is made up of 15-20 city leaders, community stakeholders, local haulers and landfill operators.

The trash task force’s efforts began on Wednesday with a two-hour meeting largely dedicated to housekeeping.

During the meeting, the trash task force set up its own business for the next couple of months, including goals, priorities, and method of doing business. The task force is made up of 15-20 city leaders, community stakeholders, local haulers and landfill operators.

Co-chairman Blake Benson, Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce president, set the tone early by addressing those who were watching the meeting either on television or in person at the Beard-Shanks Law Enforcement Center.

“If anyone watching television or here is expecting a fight or a rumble, I think and hope you will be sorely disappointed,” Benson said. “Tonight is not about changing anything or even solutions. It’s about setting the stage, and identifying what the issues are. It’s about setting timelines to make sure everybody is comfortable with that so they know what we’re working toward.”

Pittsburg City Manager Daron Hall opened up discussion by stating the impetus for the task force. He said that the issue of trash was one of the recurring themes of Pittsburg 2030, the visioning program that was organized by the Chamber of Commerce. Further, that issue of community cleanliness expanded into areas such as public health, public safety and economic development.

“Aesthetics are very important in any community,” Hall said. “Part of that is residential solid waste.”

City Attorney Henry Menghini then discussed the timetable created when the city commission passed a resolution of intent at its Nov. 13 meeting. Namely, that a plan must come forward within 90 days of the passage of that resolution of intent, and that the city would have to pass an ordinance no sooner than 180 days after that resolution of intent. No ordinance can go into effect for at least 18 months.

Bill Beasley, public works director, said that city ordinances require each dwelling unit to have trash service, and to have pickup at least one time a week. He further said that the bulk item drop-off the city has been doing in conjunction with SEK Recycling has produced two 30-yard containers full each time the service is offered.

Some haulers suggested the city could require those signing up for water service to also have proof of trash service. However, one member of the task force noted there would be no way to ensure that people wouldn’t sign up for trash service to get the water service, then drop trash service or simply not pay.

The task force agreed to work informally, but when a final solution was presented, to have a formal yes-no vote to send it to the city commission.

The group then was asked by co-chairwoman Monica Murnan to rank the 13 “goals” listed in the resolution of intent from most to least important. Three goals were then chosen as the focus of the task force’s efforts:

• Ensure that every residence has solid waste collection service on a regular periodic basis.

• Eliminate the dumping of residential solid waste in vacant lots and commercial, industrial and municipal Dumpsters.

• Assist with ongoing efforts and programs to beautify the city and clean up its residential neighborhoods.

The task force also went around the table seeking issues that need to be brought up before the task force finishes their efforts in a couple of months.

“What is the true problem?” asked Dennis Meier. “Is it a beautification problem, as Daron mentioned, or is it a guy driving down the wrong street [and seeing trash]? Is it an abundance of rental property as compared to owned property? Is it the responsibility of the renter to own his own service? I’m trying to wrap my arms around the problem.”

Benson identified two major issues that he’d like to see addressed by the task force.

“First, the number of businesses that show up Monday morning, and their Dumpster is overflowing because people dumped trash in it all weekend,” he said. “Second, cleaning up the town. Different people can take several different ways around town. Some business leaders have strategic routes through the community because of certain streets with litter.”

Charlie Maransani, representing Short’s Trash Service, was among several local haulers that called for the city to bring back the citywide cleanup, saying that some of his customers were willing to pay on their water bill to bring it back.

WCA Waste representative Chuck Carr said that the citywide cleanup had been heavily abused, requiring his company to have “five trucks running for eight days solid” for the clean-up, hauling 30- and 40-yard containers.

“People take advantage of the situation, and when they take advantage of the situation, it costs the taxpayers,” Carr said.

Jim Triplett, Crawford County Solid Waste Planning Committee, spoke about his vision for the community, including a franchise system, not a bidding system, that would divide the city based upon current market share, and potentially add customers to the local haulers’ rosters.

After the top three goals were selected, Beasley spoke about one of the recent problems with trash. Namely, that in a secluded location, someone had lifted a manhole for the city and dumped their trash, including microwaves and more, into the manhole. That, they said, was the problem of solid waste in the city’s sewer system, and that the problem was not an issue of being in the stormwater sewer system.

Before ending the meeting, the group also asked for a range of information for the next meeting, scheduled for Dec. 12 at 6 p.m. Notably, the local haulers will provide a count of their residential and duplex households with trash service within the city limits. Those numbers will be compared to the number of active residential and duplex water meters in the city limits for an estimate of those in the city with trash service.

Further, the group will look for ways other cities have solved similar problems, will seek a comparison of trash rates from the local haulers, a summary of the city’s former cleanup program, a percentage of bad debt from the haulers, and the tonnage rates for the former citywide cleanup compared to the bulk drop-off.

“We appreciate everybody’s time,” Benson said. “We applaud the haulers who were here tonight. I know we’re talking about your livelihoods. We know no one takes that more seriously than you. It says a lot about you that you were here tonight.”