This week the city commission got a first look at what it would cost residents to bring back a form of free bulky item pickup — a service the city started charging individual fees for three years ago.

The city commission is looking at how to bring back bulky item pickups — at one time a service offered free to utility customers in the city.

For three years those who needed a large item disposed of — beds, furniture, tree limbs and others — have paid a $10 fee for the city to pick up those items. That $10 is added to the utility bill of the user.

The result of the fee is fewer people calling to have things picked up — dropping from 8,059 pickups in 2015 when it was free to 2,131 pickups last year.

“Where is all that stuff, is it staying in homes? … Did we see an increase in landfill coupons,” asked Rod Kreie, city commissioner.

Less than 2,000 coupons were used last year, according to city staff.  Each utility customer can get two coupons from the city for free trips to the county transfer station.

There is a way to bring back the service, though it would look different — and it would not actually be free.

For one, there would be a sticker program and a required call to the city to prevent a sticker and/or fee for pickup. The program would be paid for, at least under a proposal brought to the commission Tuesday, with an increase to utility fees.

“I have to add a person, I have to have a grapple truck and we will have to do some public education,” Loomis said.

She made the assumption that the city would make about 8,000 pickups a year — which is about what the city did in 2015, the last year of free pickups.

The estimated increase needed to fund a new bulky item pickup is $1.63 per month per utility account. There are currently 7,642 utility accounts served by the city.

 “I look at that and see that we can do all of that for only $1.63 per month?” said Mayor Kathy Valentine.

The commission did not move forward Tuesday. The item was informational as the commission eyes creation of the next city budget.

The commission also looked at options for tree limb trimming — one that uses contractors as needed and another that uses contractors to trim tree in different city zones throughout the year. Both of those would include a possible increase to utility fees. 

“Just keep in mind, if you keep adding to the utility bill, it will get higher,” Loomis said.
“We can’t do these things for free, we just can’t,” said commissioner Barth Hague.  “.. This is preparation for us to look at for the budget. This is helpful.”

In other business the commission

• Approved closure of Athletic Park Circle on April 27 for a Community Play Day.

• Approved a request to waive building permit fees, water meter fees, water hook up fees and curb cut fees for a new housing project on E. Fifth Street.

• Approved a rezoning request to change single-family residential to multi-family R-3 for a portion of Summer Crossing Housing Addition.

• Accepted bids for a project to remodel the Law Enforcement Center. The commission accepted a bid of $2,095,500 for construction services from Haman Huffman of Kechi and $156,473.46 for furniture from John A. Marshall Co. The total project cost is estimated at more than $3.1 million. Of that cost, the city will pay an estimated $2.1 million and the county an estimated $1 million.

• Set a bid date for a sewer project at Eighth Street and Sand Creek.

• Approved the redemption and defeasance of outstanding bonds used to construct the Holiday Inn on Broadway Court. The city, through the use of bonds, loaned developers $2 million to construct the facility. The developers want to pay off the loans early in order to sell the building.