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Morning Sun
  • Protests arise after trash hauler meeting

  • Protesters held signs Friday morning outside City Hall, but many directly targeted another Hall — Daron Hall, the Pittsburg city manager.



    The signs said things like “Support your local haulers” and “Don’t Talk Trash.”

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  • Protesters held signs Friday morning outside City Hall, but many directly targeted another Hall — Daron Hall, the Pittsburg city manager.
    The signs said things like “Support your local haulers” and “Don’t Talk Trash.”
    The issue starts with trash in Pittsburg, then blossomed thanks to social media and word of mouth.
    Haulers say they believe their way of life is threatened. The City of Pittsburg says that’s the last thing they wanted to do.
    The Meeting
    The issue started Wednesday, but really it started before that.
    Daron Hall, along with City Attorney Henry Menghini, met with representatives from area trash companies on Wednesday to talk about the city’s trash issues. That meeting included four small, local trash haulers — Short’s, Lloyd’s Loads, Norris Trash Service and Beaman Refuse. It also included represenatives from larger oranizations, such as Allied Waste, Deffenbaugh Trash Service and WCA Waste.
    The original reason for the meeting was twofold.
    First, city commissioners have said in open meetings that they believe the city has a trash problem that needs to be solved.
    “Thirty percent of Pittsburg residents do not have trash service,” said Pittsburg Mayor John Ketterman on Friday. “We have businesses complaining all the time that trash is thrown in their Dumpster by other people. So we’re looking into some way to get everyone on trash service and eliminate the loads of stuff on driveways or that gets stuck in the garage and people forget about it.”
    City officials want the trash haulers to be a part of solving that problem.
    Second, the meeting was the start of a process to investigate whether the city should centralize trash service. More specifically, the meeting was called to talk to the trash haulers before any formal process begins, and also to ask for representatives on a task force being set up to investigate how to solve the city trash issue.
    The formal process would start on Oct. 9, when a resolution of intent is likely to go before the Pittsburg City Commission. That resolution is the first step, under state law, to a city takeover of trash services. By state law, that process would take at least 22 months before any actual takeover of trash would occur.
    The Issue
    This is where there is a differing of opinion as to what was and what wasn’t said in that meeting.
    “He said he wanted to divide Pittsburg into four quadrants and bid it out by the eight trash haulers that were there,” said Carol Maransani, co-owner of Short’s Trash Service. “They were going to divide it in four and bid it out.”
    Several haulers said that they believe Hall was pushing a plan that would divide the city into quadrants, with Fourth Street and Broadway as the dividing lines. Each of these quadrants would be opened up for bids, with the city operating billing, but using the haulers as, in effect, contractors to actually pick up the trash.
    Page 2 of 6 - One hauler said they had received calls from several owners of rental properties, who had received letters from the city two months ago referring to this plan.
    Hall said that he wasn’t pushing that particular plan, but rather saying that was one idea, and he would be open to other ideas that the task force could generate.
    The History
    As noted, this wasn’t the first time this issue has been raised. On April 16, 2011, a large crowd turned out to a Pittsburg City Commission meeting to denounce a similar plan.
    “Why would the city of Pittsburg want to get into the trash service,” asked Merle Lloyd, part owner of Lloyd’s Trash Service, at that meeting. “Why would they want to put all those people out of business? We don’t understand that. What we’re asking is to put this to rest. I didn’t create this. You folks did. My phone won’t quit ringing with people asking us what this is.”
    However, at that meeting, the city commissioners said they had not made any sort of decision nor even investigated the possibility. Specifically, at that meeting, the city commissioners said that all they had done was agreed to let Pittsburg State complete a study and compile information to look at “current trash collection and potential methods for improvement.”
    A plan almost identical to the plan trash haulers said Hall was pushing was offered by Dr. Jim Triplett, of Pittsburg State, the chairman of the Crawford County Solid Waste Management Committee at thtat meeting.
    At that meeting, Triplett said the city would control the billing, and this plan would lower the number of trash trucks on city roads, reduce illegal dumping, add more residents to the trash service (therefore aiding the trash haulers) and reduce some costs for the haulers. Triplett said then that this could reduce trash costs for residents by 20-30 percent.
    Haulers’ Response
    History or no history, the information about Wednesday’s meeting soon made its way to the public, starting first with a Facebook post written by Chris Norris, of Norris Trash Service. That screed on social media soon made its way through the community.
    The post says that Hall has “developed this plan where he would like to divide the city into 4 s ections (sic) and take bids from trash services on those sections.”
    “There is only one problem though,” the post says, “you have 8 haulers therefore 4 of them are going to be out of luck. You know who those 4 will be don’t you? It will be your locally owned private haulers like us, Shorts, Lloyds, and Beamans. There is no way the local haulers can compete with these big out of town companies who own the landfills like WCA, Deffenbaugh, and Allied.”
    Page 3 of 6 - Norris said Friday that Hall “didn’t come out and say” that the city would divide and put up for bids, but that the haulers had “looked between the lines.”
    The thought of this plan going to fruition is a threat, Norris said, to his business.
    “The bigger companies in town, WCA, Allied, Deffenbaugh, they do service to big cities across the country. If they do divide the city into quadrants, if they don’t get any piece of Pittsburg, they’re not hurt. But for the little companies, if we don’t get a piece, we’re really out of business,” Norris said.
    Other haulers said that they are concerned they would be run out of business if the city were divided and put up for bids.
    “The big companies go in, and they run the small man out. Then, when their contract is up in three to five years, the rates go up,” said Carol Maransani, co-owner of Short’s Trash Service who attended the meeting. “If you go back to the citywide trash pick-up, you’ll see that you don’t have a problem with trash. They say 30 percent of people do not have trash service? I don’t agree. Not from what I’ve seen.”
    Maransani said she tires of having to deal with the city talking about a business it should not be involved in.
    “I’ve been in this business for 28 years. It’s my father’s business,” Maransani said. “We have fought, every two or three years, for all 28 I’ve been here. They say there’s a trash problem. I don’t think so. I think there’s a citywide cleanup problem. [Pittsburg Public Works Director] Bill Beasley said it was too expensive for the city to have a cleanup program anymore.”
    Maransani pointed to programs that offer free dumping, such as a program at the local landfill that allows for one free dumping day per month, or even the bulk drop-off program once a month at SEK Recycling.
    “He said in the meeting he didn’t care in the past what the problem had been, but he said in the future it will get done. And I don’t like what he said,” Maransani said Friday.
    But Maransani and Norris weren’t the only trash haulers at that meeting. So was Merle Lloyd, of Lloyd’s Loads.
    He said that the meeting was about two things: forming a task force to study the issue, and that the city is going to take over trash service.
    Lloyd said that he volunteered to help represent the trash haulers on the soon-to-be-formed task force.
    “The city will take over the running of the trash business. That’s what the decision is. Then the committee will decide how that goes about,” Lloyd said.
    Page 4 of 6 - Lloyd said that he took from the meeting that no formal plan had yet been drafted.
    “We will have meetings yet. I’ll try finding out from going to the meetings. They say this is about cleaning the city, but we’re not in charge of that. We’re in charge of hauling trash off,” Lloyd said.
    He further said that he agreed with a lot of points brought up in the meeting, and that the city and haulers have the same desire to help the city.
    However, he said it’s not clear yet what the final look of the city trash service is going to be. He also said that he understands the reason for all the mistrust.
    “The city is dealing with the livelihoods of people and their employees. People are making decisions, and they forget that these people have employees. Those employees get afraid they’re going to lose their jobs, and this is out of their hands,” Lloyd said. “They’re just workers, and this is important to those people.”
    The Protest
    Friday morning, the protesters were out in full force, right in the view of Daron Hall’s office window.
    “They’re going to be putting local businesses on unemployment. The city says it supports local business, but they aren’t,” said protester Kelli Gaddy. “This would force families to be out of a job.”
    Although no formal plans have been presented to the public or even to the city commission, Gaddy said it was important to make sure the city knew where its residents stood on the issue of supporting its local businesses.
    “I feel if we are not informed now, we will be informed too late to be able to make a difference. We have got to make our voices heard. That’s the only way we can make a difference,” she said.
    Furthermore, Gaddy expressed a mistrust of city government, saying that other issues had been “brought in the back door.”
    “The city might make it seem like it’s not happening, but they told [the trash haulers] this was the future, and nobody could stand in their way. This was how it was going to be. In doing that, they’d be closing three or four family owned companies, and it would affect 50 citizens in this community.”
    The Manager
    “I think everyone is getting the cart before the horse,” said Pittsburg City Manager Daron Hall on Friday. “No decision has been made. The only thing is the city will be issuing a letter of intent for a task force to come up with a solution. There are no plans to put out for bid at this time.”
    Hall said the meeting Wednesday was of a different intent than to introduce a city takeover of trash. Instead, he said that he had told the trash haulers that before anything took place, he would meet with them first. That, he said, was the intent of Wednesday’s meeting.
    Page 5 of 6 - Instead, he said the issue all comes back to trash. The city wants help from those that know trash better than they do, Hall said.
    “I’ve been here four months. My job is to command the city. Trash service is one of our major problems. A lot of people, no matter what they say, don’t pay for trash. We want to organize it so trash is picked up in an organized manner. The city is not wanting to pick up trash, it’s just wanting to organize the program,” Hall said.
    Hall further said he has no desire to eliminate any local businesses, and that their inclusion is proof he has no desire to see them out of business. Rather, he wants to see the city work with its trash haulers to solve the city’s trash problem. He also said he wants public input in the process.
    “If we have trash in our water mains, in our manholes, and we have businesses who say their Dumpsters are full every Sunday evening, it’s obvious we need to consider a trash service. The job of a city is to provide water and take away waste, either solid or fluid,” Hall said. “This is a public process, and we want to do this in a public way. That’s my goal, as I told everybody, repeatedly. It’s going to take a couple years. We have a lot of time to work on this together.”
    The Mayor
    Pittsburg Mayor John Ketterman was not at the meeting on Wednesday. None of the city commissioners were.
    He said that the city does have a trash problem that needs to be solved. The solution, he said, is up in the air.
    “We want everybody working together to solve the problem. That’s why we wanted to meet with the trash haulers first so they know what we’re looking for. We want participation in it. We have two years worth of study, two years of meetings. We will have plenty of public input meetings to get their input. No decision has been made whatsoever,” Ketterman said.
    As for a city takeover of trash hauling, Ketterman said he does not know anything about any such plans any time soon. Instead, from his perspective, the city commissioners want a plan that has been worked over, informed by local haulers, is beneficial for the city and its streets, and has been vetted by the public.
    “None of that is even in the near future. We were just wanting to keep the trash services informed,” Ketterman said. “We left them deciding who their representatives would be on the task force. We want their input, we want their suggestions. If someone has a better idea, let’s hear it. We have no solutions at this time, nor do we plan to come out next week to and say, ‘This is the plan.’”
    Page 6 of 6 - The next meeting of the city commission is Sept. 25 at 5:30 p.m., but the trash issue will likely be brought up next at the Oct. 9 meeting.
    Andrew Nash can be reached at andrew.nash@morningsun.net or by calling 231-2600 ext. 140.
     

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