December 14, 2010

Trash plan foes take fight online

Controversy over Wichita's proposed trash-hauling cooperative has entered the online world.

Controversy over Wichita's proposed trash-hauling cooperative has entered the online world.

A website — mytrashmy choice.com — was launched Monday to drive opposition to the plan. A Facebook page and Twitter account by the same name have also been established.

The My Trash, My Choice movement is the work of Tyler Cooper and Matt Goolsby, who say the city's proposal removes a resident's ability to pick a hauler, reduces influence on customer service and allows the city to set the price.

"This definitely takes out free enterprise," said Cooper, 25, who is a Web and graphic designer.

Cooper and Goolsby are also two of six citizens scheduled to address the City Council today about the trash plan.

Under a proposal that first became public last month, the trash haulers would be formed into a cooperative.

Everyone in the city would have weekly trash service, bi-weekly curbside recycling and annual bulk waste pickup for a flat $20 monthly fee. The charge would show up on city water bills.

Cooper and Goolsby want trash service to remain as it is with about 20 companies competing for customer business. They hope the website — which includes a link for residents to post how much they pay for trash service — and social media outlets will help drive discussion.

"I'm really fed up with how intrusive City Hall wants to be in our lives," said Goolsby, 28.

Cooper said he pays about $45 per quarter now for trash and recycling service. Goolsby said he pays $60 quarterly and doesn't have recycling.

But both said this wasn't so much about the proposed $20 monthly charge as it was the freedom of choice.

"Even if the city would come back and say $10 for service," Cooper said, "the price will go up someday. And you'll have no choice but to pay it."

Goolsby said customer service would be hurt without the competition and with no direct line to the hauler providing service.

"Once my individual choice of provider is taken away," Goolsby said, "I lose altogether and City Hall wins."

The next step for the city's plan is to be presented at district advisory board meetings citywide, starting in early January. Goolsby, who has run unsuccessfully for mayor and City Council, is on District 4's advisory board.

"We're trying to encourage people to go to their (advisory board meetings) to engage their City Council members and tell them they don't want this," Goolsby said.

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