City council approves new trash pickup system



Starting as early as late summer, Bloomington residents will no longer buy stickers for trash collection, which are currently placed on trash bags for the city sanitation department to pick up. Returning from its spring break, Bloomington Common Council approved the change of the city's trash collection system Wednesday. 

The new system will give each resident using city trash services carts for both trash and recycling. New sanitation trucks will pick up the trash. Currently sanitation workers have to manually place trash in the dump truck, which has resulted in injuries costing $89,000 from 2013 to 2015, according to director of Public Works Adam Wason. 

The carts will also have radio frequency identification chips. When a cart's trash is dumped into a truck, the chip will track usage, optimize routes and project revenue. Each chip will have a specific serial number and have the address of the household to which it belongs. 

Trash carts will come in 35, 64 and 96 gallons. Recycling carts will hold 96 gallons. 

The new system comes from an update to the sanitation department's equipment. Trucks are supposed to last about seven years, Wason said, but some of the city's trucks are upwards of 12 years old and need replacing. 

Recycling will be collected weekly as opposed to the biweekly system implemented now. 

Prices will be a flat rate for each household depending on which size of cart they choose to use. This may result in some people paying more per month for trash than they may on the current sticker system, which is $2 per bag set out for pickup. 

However, the fees – yet to be determined beyond a broad estimated range – will stop being collected in 2020. At that point, the sanitation department must reconvene to come up with a more fair payment system. A rebate program will then be instated. 

The data collected by the radio frequency identification chips would help the city decide how to implement a pay-as-you-throw plan in the future, as opposed to the flat rates.

The city also unanimously passed a resolution to express support for background checks for gun purchases. Council member Allison Chopra and two members of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Maurer School of Law professor Jody Madeira and Rachel Guglielmo, presented the resolution to the council.

The resolution calls for the Indiana General Assembly to remove a law that prohibits local governments from making firearm decisions and to implement universal background checks for all private gun sales. 

Public comment was divided on the issue. Those against the statement thought there should be more training for gun owners and that a background check should be narrowly defined to clarify which people could and could not own a gun. 

The rest of the council expressed adamant support for the resolution. 

Council member Isabel Piedmont-Smith  gave a fiery statement of support and called the National Rifle Association "a cancer on our society" and wishing there were stronger gun regulations across the nation. 

"You do not give a gun who is a criminal, you do not give a gun to someone who is mentally ill," she said. "It's crazy to do otherwise. I would say it's mental illness to do so." 

Council member Chris Sturbaum said that background measure is common sense. Council member Stephen Volan rebutted that while he supported the resolution, the way gun regulations would be decided on would need to start with everyone agreeing on what "common sense" means.

"I wish it didn't have to come down to city councils in states have to say these things in the first place," Volan said.

Council member Dave Rollo brought up that closing the loophole in gun show purchases also closes the competitive advantage that those sellers have and would put them on the same level as other retailers who are required to do background checks.

"Why the double-standard?" he said.

The council also unanimously approved moving funds from the Monroe County Community Foundation to city funds for affordable housing initiatives and the rearrangement of some city jobs. 

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