The possibility of establishing single-hauler trash service in residential areas of Osage Beach has already generated public feedback and discussion among board of aldermen even though any change would be at least two years away.
The board recently discussed at length a proposal by Alderman Jeff Bethurem that the city consider moving to a single-vendor service rather than allowing city residents the option of choosing which of three registered haulers to use. The board twice delayed discussion because not all six aldermen were present, but decided to have general discussion Feb. 15 despite being one member short.
One thing made clear by city officials is that the city has no intent to enter into the trash hauling service. The city would facilitate negotiations with multiple vendors for a single-service hauler, or would leave the current system of multiple haulers in place.
Two individuals who spoke during the Public Comment portion of the agenda were adamant that residents continue to have the ability to choose their trash hauler. Another person who spoke was concerned about potential damage to city streets caused by the weight of trash haulers.
Moving to a single-hauler system would cut out competition, Osage Beach resident Ike Skelton offered.
"I believe in the free market system and allowing individuals to contract with their own trash haulers as they see fit," he said. "By coming up with a single trash hauler, you'd be taking the responsibility away from that homeowner to let them choose what they want to do."
He also warned that some cities with single-hauler service have required mandatory recycling that could result in fines to individuals who don't participate.
Another local business owner was equally expressive about retaining the right of an individual to make the trash hauling decision.
"Liberty has to be the rule of the day," he said. "If there are issues, I think we can reach some accommodation. I think we're treading into some territory that is liberty robbing. It just becomes one little step after one little step and before we know it our liberty is gone."
He did, however, commend the city for taking a proactive approach to engaging the public in making the decision and letting residents know before a decision is made.
In written comments to the board from city staff it was noted that "there are many positives to the city providing this (single-vendor) service and the most convincing is less wear and tear on road surfaces as well as less heavy truck traffic through neighborhoods, providing better public safety, an ability to negotiate lower, fixed-waste service costs on behalf of the community and the opportunity to orchestrate routes that have a positive impact on vehicle traffic."
According to state law, for the city to change the the current service plan, individual haulers would need a two-year advance notice of possible change in the trash service.
For more than half an hour, board members shared opinions on the issue, with the general consensus that residents should have a choice. However, they agreed additional input should come from residents before any decision is made.
"From my personal perspective on this board, the last thing I want to do is take away anybody's free enterprise," Alderman Richard Ross said. "As a matter of fact, the only way I see this issuing having any significance and value is if we can use the purchasing power of residents and citizens of Osage Beach and see if these are any savings. In my mind that is the only reason we would venture down this path."
He stressed he has no interest in the city providing trash service.
He agreed there would be fewer trucks on city streets with single-vendor service, but added he's not convinced there would be a significant impact.
Alderman Phyllis Marose noted there haven't been any serious concerns from residents about damage to streets resulting from trash trucks, construction trucks, boat haulers or others.
"Our full and part-time residents using their own selected trash service is their service, not ours," she said. "I don't feel comfortable having Osage Beach taking over city trash service. Let the private enterprises prevail. I don't approve of terminating someone's source of income. The city should leave this issue alone and not go forward."
Alderman Kevin Rucker, who has experience in the trash business, agreed there would be some cost savings to residents and the city, but added he wasn't sure going to a single-vendor service would be worth the savings.
Alderman Bethurem said he felt there would be "huge savings" for residents. Currently, three trash trucks use city streets; with one service, there would be just one truck.
"I do think this is worth talking about," he said, "but a lot of things have been misconstrued because we haven't talked about it. We haven't even started to discuss options."
Ultimately, Mayor John Olivarri invited the public -- including representatives of the three trash vendors -- to the regular March 1 board meeting to share their thoughts, recommendations and concerns. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. in the city hall.
"I had hoped to have this type of discussion tonight so everyone on the board had the opportunity to hear what others are thinking," he said. "Before we spend lot of staff time trying to put together an evaluation, we need to have an understanding that this is the right thing to do. Based on what I've heard from the board, we have no intention of going down this road unless community wants this."