COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Columbia residents will not have the opportunity to vote in November to remove restrictions on roll carts for trash collection.
The Columbia City Council voted Monday against a special election on Nov. 3. The vote was split three to three because Ian Thomas was not at the meeting.
According to a memo attached to the city council agenda, the prepayment cost to participate in the special election would have been $200,297.50.
"Last year when we were setting our budget we determined that this election for November would probably cost about $500,000," said Boone County Clerk Brianna Lennon.
She said that covers the costs of ballots and all other supplies.
The city would have been responsible for sharing the total cost of the election.
"That's based on the number of voters compared to the number of total voters that are in Boone County," she said.
Watch interviews with Mayor Brian Treece ahead of the council meeting in the player below at 5 and 6.
Voters approved a referendum banning automated trash collection in 2016. Columbia city trash customers under the current system put their trash and recycling bags on the curb for manual pickup.
The city suspended residential recycling pickup last month.
Columbia Mayor Brian Treece said he believes the money for the election could be used elsewhere.
"I think it would be better to use that $200,000 to improve the pay of our refuse collectors and address some of the issues we're having with recruiting and retaining the best employees for that job," he said.
City utilities director Dave Sorrell talked about the potential costs of the transition to the city council during a budget workshop on Thursday.
Sorrell said the city would need seven trucks to run five recycling routes. The trucks would be around $330,000 each and the carts themselves would be $55. There would be 72,000 carts.
That would make the cost to switch to the roll carts and automated trucks around $6.2 million.
It would be around $12 million to switch to automated trucks for both trash and recycling routes.
Treece said the does not feel this should be the city's focus at this time.
"There's an additional $12 million to buy new trucks with arms and every household in Columbia a roll cart for them to use for their garbage," Treece said. "I just think in the middle of a pandemic that's not the discussion we need to be having."
Sorrell said there would be several things that could offset that cost, including an anticipated reduction in the number of temporary staff needed to run the routes. He estimated that alone would offset between $500,000 to $700,000 annually.
He also said the city would save money by trading in the trucks they currently use to replace them with the automated ones.
The department also expects workers's compensation claims to decrease as collectors would not have to get on and off of the trucks.
Check back for updates on this developing story.