Roeland Park councilor wants leaf pickup fee rolled back into general fund

The Roeland Park tree logo could be redone in a new branding effort.

At least one member of the Roeland Park City Council wants to lower the amount of the assessment for solid waste services that residents pay each year on property taxes by putting the cost of leaf pickup back in the general fund.

Each year the city sets an assessment level that covers the costs of trash pickup along with recycling and yard waste removal. That fee is largely based on the cost to the city for the contract with Town & Country Disposal for waste services and a small administrative cost of just over $4,000.

In Roeland Park, though, the city provides a leaf pickup service in the fall that is run through he public works department. Prior to 2013, the cost of leaf pickup had been absorbed in the city’s general fund. Then it was shifted to be part of the solid waste assessment that is included on the annual property tax bill. The cost of leaf pickup has been running about $28 per property.

“I want to roll back the fee,” Councilor Becky Fast told fellow councilors this week. Fast said the city is double-dipping because the leaf pickup is done by the public works department. The annual fee to residents would be lowered if the $80,000 cost of leaf pickup was absorbed in the general fund, she said.

Roeland Park resident Tom Madigan also asked the council to remove the cost of the leaf program and put it back in the city budget.

The city proposed charging $178 per residential property for the solid waste services, including leaf pickup, for 2017. City administrator Keith Moody said he saw it as a utility and that the cost for it should be recovered. Putting it back in the general fund would shift more of the cost onto businesses, he said.

The council will make a decision on the fee during its budget deliberations.