NORMAN — At least one city council member thinks voters should decide whether the curbside recycling program should be changed from a weekly service to every other week.
Councilman Tom Kovach said voters in 2007 approved the recycling program based on ballot language that specified it was a weekly service. To change to a biweekly service would not be in conformance with the ballot language, he said.
City Attorney Jeff Bryant said his legal opinion is that a vote is not needed to make the change. Residents voted on the $3 rate that is charged for the service, not how the service is delivered, he said.
Council members debated the issue during a study session Tuesday, with most members siding with Bryant's legal opinion.
The council wants to switch to every other week to keep costs of the program down.
With a biweekly service, bins would be traded in for “polycarts” that would hold twice as many items. The carts would have lids and wheels, and cardboard would be added as a recyclable material, Utilities Director Ken Komiske said.
The service rate would remain at $3 per month per household, Bryant said.
“You can't adjust rates, but you can change how you operate the service,” he said.
Councilman Jim Griffith said customers would be getting a better service with the biweekly pickup.
“We are not changing the rate, and we are improving the service,” Mayor Cindy Rosenthal said.
Council members Chad Williams and Roger Gallagher indicated they were undecided on the matter. Gallagher, who is running for a second term on the council, said he plans to ask residents how they feel about it as he campaigns door-to-door.
Williams said the biweekly service might be better “but is it a violation of the ballot language?”
A contract with Waste Management, the company that currently handles the service, is about to expire. Council members are negotiating a five-year contract with Republic Services Inc. to take over the program's operation.