It’s only right for renters to join property owners in exploring the brave new world of pay-as-you-throw garbage collection. The City Commission apparently is poised to vote for an ordinance amendment allowing landlords to make their tenants subject to the fines that punish people who overload the new garbage carts, leave them at the curb too long after collection, confuse the functions of garbage and recycling containers or commit sundry other sins against the Department of Public Works.
What rent payers won’t have to worry about is getting bills for the $4 and $12 monthly fees on the larger waste containers which city residents were allowed to choose as an option. That cost will remain the landlords’ responsibility, although it likely will be passed along in the form of higher rent.
City commissioners are changing policy in response to a protest mounted by the Frankfort Landlords Association that its members were unjustly cited for renters’ violations of disposal rules. The main reason for putting the onus on landlords was to simplify enforcement. City Hall knows where to find property owners. Tenants come and go and sometimes they go without paying bills, which would give government some of the collection problems that landlords know all too well.
Public Works Director Jeff Hackbart acknowledged the amendment will create some difficulties for his staff in determining who actually broke the garbage rules and ensuring cited individuals pay any fines and then comply with the law.
Everyone touched by the city’s evolving strategy for reducing waste flow and increasing recycling has had to make adjustments. Trash disposal used to be a fairly simple matter. All you had to do was bag the waste and leave the bags on the curb for city workers to pick up. Many didn’t know and some probably didn’t care that the garbage men had a nasty, dangerous job. Now their work is a bit easier, with hydraulic equipment to lift the hefty containers and dump the contents into the truck for transportation to the landfill.
Private citizens, on the other hand, are finding their lives more complicated. First they had to decide whether to get small trash carts, at no charge, or make monthly payments for bigger ones. They’ve also had to learn when to roll those carts out to the street and when they were required to bring them back in. Some have gotten in trouble for putting waste in recycling carts that should have gone into the pay carts. And some can’t understand why they should have to buy $3 plastic “overflow” bags from the city whenever their rented carts run out of room. Piling unauthorized bags around the cart is a big no-no.
Supporters maintain this program is worth all the trouble because less waste volume means the city pays less money to dump trash and garbage in the landfill. Recycling collection – soon to be extended to all downtown businesses – promises to turn part of the problem into an asset through the sale of recycled materials.
It’s still an open question whether reality will live up the expectations or if the cost of the program will eventually lead to higher fees and bitter complaints. But as long as pay-as-you-throw waste collection is part of life in Frankfort, the rules should apply to everyone, whether they rent or own.