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Our Opinion: Don't trash progress - vote "no' on Proposition A

Our Opinion: Don't trash progress - vote "no' on Proposition A

April 3rd, 2011 in News

Jefferson City's trash and recycling contract is reasonably priced, practical and progressive.

Proposition A on Tuesday's ballot would not be a change for the better and we urge residents to vote "no."

Consider the big picture. Governments - whether federal, state or local - are established to advance the common good - or, in the words of the U.S. Constitution, "promote the general welfare."

We believe the city's trash contract does that.

We concede it is not perfect. Low-volume and high-volume residential users may experience a hardship or inconvenience because fees are not linked to individual volumes.

We support reasonable recommendations for improvements. Experience indicates this support is shared by officials with the city and its service provider, Allied Waste Systems.

Residents may request larger or smaller trash receptacles. In addition, disabled residents unable to wheel receptacles to the curb may request enhanced, personal service.

These accommodations are sensible because allowances for individual needs do not threaten the overall public good.

Proposition A proponents argue the proposal does not pose such a threat and simply promotes choice.

The ballot language, indeed, seems benign. It would eliminate the provision that trash be collected only by an "authorized" collector - which now is Allied Waste.

In practice, the change would remove cost controls, likely resulting in higher fees. Does anyone really believe a trash hauler can afford the expenses of manpower, vehicles and gasoline to serve one, or even a few, residents in a neighborhood?

The answer is readily available by looking at other cities and areas, including rural Cole County, where trash removal is more expensive.

Proposition A also could prompt a breach-of-contract lawsuit that could result in legal costs to taxpayers.

Most important, however, is the trash contract's contribution to the common good.

What's so good about it? Consider, since the contract became effective in 2009:

• Two million pounds of trash, previously unaccounted for, has been collected. Much of this trash was illegally burned, dumped or disposed of in commercial or residential receptacles or public venues, at the expense of other users and taxpayers.

• Six million pounds of items have been recycled, a seven-fold increase.

• Twenty-four percent of the city's total waste tonnage now is recycled, which will extend the life of the landfill.

Although the trash contract can be improved, it generally has distributed costs reasonably and transformed Jefferson City into a cleaner and more attractive community.

Residents are being asked not to throw that away.

We agree. Vote "no" Tuesday on Proposition A.