More than decade after Merriam abandons single-hauler trash plan, resident asks city to consider it again

Trash and recycling containers can be left out for only 18 hours after the collection time and then must be stored where they are not visible from the street.
Merriam residents are on their own to get trash service.

More than a decade after the city passed, and then abandoned, the idea of having a single hauler for trash collection, a Merriam resident has raised the issue again.

Merriam is believed to be the last of the northeast Johnson County cities that does not provide for trash collection for the entire city by engaging in a contract for trash and recycling services. Other municipalities provide trash, recycling and composting pickup as part of a contract with a disposal service – either Deffenbaugh or Town and Country – and then pass the charges on to the residents as part of the assessment on the annual property tax bill.

In Merriam, residents who are not part of a homes association that organizes pickup are on their won to make a deal with a trash hauler.

In 2003, the city council adopted a council policy that would have initiated a single-hauler collection. Already in 2003, most of the NEJC cities had implemented single-hauler trash service. In June of that year, the city sent a letter to residents with the details of the new program and the charges.

A public hearing that month generated lots of public comment. By July 2003 the city sent a followup postcard saying it would not pursue a citywide program. The Merriam policy was officially repealed some years later, council members said during a discussion this week.

The issue of one disposal service was raised again earlier this month by resident Rueben Cozmyer who told the council he felt a single-hauler system would reduce the price to residents and the number of trucks that are on the streets each week.

City administrator Phil Lammers told the council this week that those issues – fewer trucks, lower cost, less damage to city streets and safety – are compelling reasons for a single-hauler policy. But he cautioned the council that a majority of those speaking out in 2003 opposed the idea.

“I think it is pretty important to read over that,” he said of the 2003 comments. “I think it is a really good idea, but it won’t come easy.” He said other cities have been able to negotiate lower prices and reduce the truck traffic in neighborhoods. “It is chaotic,” he said of the current system.

“It is a very difficult issue that people can get passionate about,” Mayor Ken Sissom said. The council has made no current plans to take up the issue.