Brown questions city's trash hauler policy


KNOXVILLE — Karen Brown wants Knoxville to hit the brakes on a plan to take the limits off the number of commercial garbage haulers operating in the city. She told the City Council how this change would affect her business at its meeting Tuesday, Sept. 5.

Current city code allows licenses for only three commercial haulers. Maxim Trucking & Materials of Pella asked the council at its Aug. 21 meeting to expand that to allow any qualified hauler to get a city license.

City Manager Aaron Adams explained Wednesday that certain businesses have working relationships with certain haulers. Maxim, for example hauls for many projects of TK Concrete, which does a lot of jobs in Knoxville, Adams noted. The city charges a small licensing fee to haulers, so the only benefit might come to businesses due to increased competition among hauling companies.

Brown, of Brown’s Town & Country Sanitation, said that more haulers would hurt her business.

While that may seem obvious, the situation gets more complex, Brown said. She said the city has an intergovernmental agreement that requires it to have a recycling program, and that Brown’s provides that service for Knoxville.

Adams said Wednesday morning that city staff is trying to verify whether an agreement exists that requires a recycling program. “That’s not to say that we don’t want that as a service,” Adams added.

Brown said that 100 percent of her commercial customers are recycling. Brown’s also operates a recycling center at 517 N. Depot St. that accepts recycling from the public for free and charges nothing to the city, she said.

More commercial haulers would decrease the volume of the commercial side of Brown’s business, Brown said. Less volume would mean less to recycle, and the loss of revenue would force Brown’s out of the recycling business, she said.

“Garbage and recycling go hand-in-hand,” she said of her business. “I have to have that material. If I lose 10 percent of the cardboard, the recycling center can not exist. If I close the center because I don’t have product, you’ll lose the recycling program.”

New City Council Member Dylan Morse expressed concern about the impact of the proposed ordinance. The council voted 3-2 to continue consideration of the plan. The proposed ordinance will have its second of three hearings when the council meets Sept. 18. It has the option at that time to waive a third hearing and take a final vote on the ordinance.

In other business, the council approved supplemental funding for the 2017 streets project. The project, which starts next week with work on Robinson Street east of Lincoln (Highway 14), receives federal Surface Transportation Program money administered by the Iowa Department of Transportation. The federal share of the $1.2 million project — 80 percent to the city’s 20 percent — falls under strict compliance guidelines and faces a thorough audit, Adams told the Journal-Express.

The council’s action authorized up to $47,900 to be spent for tests to ensure that street work passes inspection, which would keep the city in good standing for future federal funding, Adams said.

The council also reset to its Sept. 18 meeting a hearing to discuss a lot it owns at 110 West Douglas St. A neighboring homeowner wants the lot to build a garage and is willing to remove a building on it in return for the lot.

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