Roeland Park reviewing options for solid waste fee, looks to cut annual cost by $2 per household

A truck similar to the one Roeland Park officials are looking into for the city.

By Holly Cook

City staff presented two assessment options for the city’s 2019 solid waste program during the Roeland Park governing body workshop. Assessments include cost for the annual leaf pickup program and the city’s contract with WCA.

Councilors also heard plans for the preliminary 2019 leaf pick up schedule, which accounts for public works transitioning away from their usual pickup method to using a single person automated leaf vacuum truck.

Public works plans to increase the schedule from six to 12 weeks to allow public works to provide three pickup opportunities per home. “This has the added benefit of providing a broader window for resident’s leaves to fall and take advantage of the program,” according to the staff report.

Despite the expanded schedule, the overall cost of the program is expected to decrease by about $6,000 (to about $81,570) – thanks to the new leaf vacuum truck.

The city’s contract with WCA is fixed through 2020 so cost for 2019 is unchanged.
The first solid waste assessment fee option included the cost of staff time used for the leaf pick up program and would increase the annual fee by $13, for a total cost of $212 per household.

The second option would exclude the cost of staff time for the leaf program and would reduce overall fees by $2, for a cost of $197 per year. This option would shift leaf program personnel cost to be paid with taxes, which is equal to about .5 mills, said city administrator Keith Moody.

Councilmember Becky Fast said she did not agree with the city continuing to charge residents a fee for the leaf pickup program. Fast said the fee was originally intended to be temporary and was added to soften the blow of expected sales tax loss from reports Walmart was leaving town. Now that Walmart was staying, the city should sunset the fee, she said.

Councilmember Tom Madigan agreed with Fast and asked if the city would consider charging residents for snow removal next.

Mayor Mike Kelly said he felt everyone could agree they love the leaf program but pointed out “we are going to end up paying for it somewhere.”

Councilors signaled tentative consensus to move forward with the second option, which would cut costs for residents. The issue will be revisited at an upcoming council meeting.