City of Lawton residential customers will see a change to their trash service by year’s end.
The City Council has approved a budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, and among the adjustments made to balance that budget in a difficult revenue year is a plan to take the city’s longtime twice-a-week trash collection system to one time a week. But, city officials also plan to institute a monthly bulk pickup program for residents at their homes.
“Once per week has been coming for a very long time,” said Ward 8 Councilman Randy Warren, a member of a council study committee which analyzed an idea that has been presented multiple times in recent years and even instituted once, before the council changed its mind in the face of strong residential opposition.
City Manager Michael Cleghorn said the proposal is important to the 2020-2021 city budget because it will cut the cost of solid waste collection by $400,000. Mayor Stan Booker said Lawton is one of the few large cities that still offer twice-a-week trash service.
When Cleghorn outlined the idea for council members earlier this spring, he said it would be at least October before the once-a-week concept could be implemented because of necessary changes in equipment and staffing. Thursday, he predicted the service would be implemented sometime between November and January because of new equipment that must be secured, people who have to be trained, and residents who have to be educated on the new program.
The City of Lawton also is bringing something new to the table: once-a-month bulk trash collection.
“This is an attempt to beautify the city,” Cleghorn said, explaining residents will be allowed to place bulk items in front of their residences once a month for pickup at no charge, as long as debris fits into a 6-foot by 6-foot area that is no taller than 4 feet.
Ward 4 Councilman Jay Burk said the concept will replace the city’s annual Trash Off, a Saturday event that allows residents to bring bulk items to a central location near McMahon Auditorium at no cost. While the city had once offered bulk pickup service four times a year, it now allows residents two free bulk debris pickups at their residences, charging a fee for pickups beyond those two free trips.
Once-a-month bulk service would replace those programs and actually save the City of Lawton money, Burk said. Trash Off provides flexibility to residents, but every city employee associated with the Saturday program works overtime.
“It’s a big cost savings,” Burk said.
Burk said residents also will have the option of securing a second polycart for their homes, at a cost of $5 per month (the first polycart is provided free of charge as part of solid waste services).
“This is an awesome compromise,” said Warren, comparing the idea to a mini-Trash Off held each month.
City administrators said the bulk debris would be collected on Wednesdays, with the city divided into four zones to allow each area one pickup per month.