Columbia City Council moves trash roll cart issue to public vote

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia City Council voted unanimously to move the roll cart debate to a public vote on March 15, 2016.

This decision comes after the Solid Waste Advocacy Group completed a petition in mid-October which accrued over 4,000 signatures to prohibit the use of roll carts in Columbia.  

The current system allows residents to place bags of trash on city streets, which are then picked up by sanitation workers. Conversely, the roll cart system would make residents place bags of trash in green bins with wheels. These carts would be picked up by specialized trucks, not workers.

Third Ward Columbia City Councilman Karl Skala said he can see pros and cons to both sides of the roll cart dilemma.

"For the city, in terms of efficiencies both financial and in terms of public safety for the folks working on the trucks," Skala said. "The advantage to elderly people for picking up 20 to 30 pound bags and putting them on the curb allows the bags to disappear once the city picks them up."

Chuck Headley, a Columbia resident and member of the Solid Waste Advocacy Group, said he opposes roll carts because he thinks they are unappealing to city streets.

"On trash day, after the truck is gone, my neighborhood is clean," Headley said. "There is no evidence there was any ever trash on the roads."

Headley also said people with disabilities benefit more from the current trash removal system.

"I know of one person in a wheel chair who said they are able to take a bag and drag it by their wheel chair," Headley said. "Trying to push a cart would be a problem."

The City Council noted that residents with disabilities would not have to worry about trash removal. The city said it provides a service that requires the city to move the trash instead of the resident.

Headley also said having the current system allows employees to keep their jobs.

"It does provide employment for people even though we talk about the hazards of those jobs," Headley said. "There are things they have to be careful about, but they are jobs."

If the public votes for roll carts in March 2016, the city cannot make a counter measure for another six months.