New Garbage Ordinance in Frankfort

Dec 20, 2011

Education – for both residents and city staff – will be the next step for Frankfort and the pay-as-you-throw garbage ordinance, says Public Works Director Jeff Hackbart. During Monday’s City Commission meeting, the new garbage ordinance amendment was approved by a 3-2 vote. After the nearly yearlong discussion, Commissioners Sellus Wilder, Katie Hedden and Michael Turner voted for the system, while Commissioner Bill May and Mayor Gippy Graham opposed it.

“My concerns are still with how we are going to balance the budget,” Graham said. May said he encourages recycling, but tried to speak for the constituents he has heard from who oppose the new system.

Hedden and Turner said they’re pleased to see the new system come to Frankfort, but the work is just beginning for some of the city’s public works department.

“We’ll be learning a lot over the next month – kind of what the issues are that we need to work with the residents on,” Hackbart said.

The city will begin billing for the pay-as-you-throw system Feb. 1. However, the carts could be delivered as early as Jan. 1, giving residents about a month to adapt.

Toter Inc., a branch of Wastequip, the company that produced the carts, is currently in Frankfort assembling the carts, Hackbart said.

“A very important part of our pay-as-you-throw program is educating the public on the benefits of the program – what is available to them and how the program works on a day-to-day basis,” City Manager Fred Goins said.

Hackbart said the staff plans to use as many media outlets as possible to inform residents about the new system and guidelines for recycling. This will include a pamphlet attached to the carts explaining the pay-as-you-throw system and recycling guidelines.

A reverse 911 “phone blast” will notify residents with home phone lines of the change and the parameters will be available on cable Channel 10, on the city’s website and in The State Journal, Hackbart said. The city will also insert the pamphlets with the final flat-fee bills, which are slated to be sent out in January.

“We’re trying to hit every media source to get the information out there,” Hackbart said.

Four residents spoke in favor of the program during Monday’s commission meeting and each congratulated the commissioners on their discussions over the last year.

“I just can’t wait to get my wheels,” one of the citizens said about receiving the wheeled garbage and recycling carts.

Each property owner can choose between three sizes of carts – a free small cart, a $4 medium and a $12 large cart. This system will replace the current $5 monthly flat fee.

The idea behind the scale is to give residents an incentive to recycle more by paying a lower monthly fee – resulting in less solid waste going to the curb each week.

The less waste residents produce, the more the city could save in tipping fees when it comes to the long term budget. The city is also reimbursed for recycling it sends to the Lexington recycling plant.

All residents will be given their requested garbage carts and free recycling carts – each with a different color lid to distinguish between the two. The city will also provide 12 free overflow bags per year for waste that will not fit into the carts.

All solid waste that is put to the curb outside the city-provided containers will now be considered illegal, according to the ordinance.

Residents who are out of line with the ordinance will be given a warning, and if they are not in compliance after a designated time, will be handed a $25 fine.

While the amendment significantly overhauls the garbage ordinance, some things about the current system will not change. The city will continue to pick up bulky items and yard waste for free.

Residents who have physical hardships, including injuries or topographical difficulties, may qualify for a waiver to opt out of using the carts, but will still be required to use the city-provided bags and pay a fee accordingly. The city will decide the waivers on a case-by-case basis.

The city will also collect the red recycling bins to redistribute to the local schools.

To help residents decide what can be recycled, labels were stamped on the lids of the recycling carts that explain what is accepted as a recyclable.

Residents may exchange carts if they find they need a larger cart or if they can get by with a smaller option. However, Hackbart asks residents to hold off on changing carts until after Jan. 1 when everything is distributed.

“If they let us get all the carts out first, then we can come back and get back with people who want to change their recycling or garbage cart out after Jan. 1,” Hackbart said.

Staff will follow the trucks delivering the carts to answer questions and to inform people how they can exchange carts if needed, Hackbart added.

“There’s going to be a lot of one-on-one time where they can call in – there’s going to be a lot of education going on in January,” Hackbart said.