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Proposed Lawton landfill policy changes up for a vote

(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - Changes to the Lawton landfill and how you dump your trash could be coming soon. We told you a few months ago that some citizens were calling their city council members saying the dumping policy was confusing. So a council member and city staff committee rewrote some of the city code to clear up some any confusion. The changes will be voted on during Tuesday night’s city council meeting.

Lawton residents were wondering why some of them were being turned away or being asked for a dump fee when they thought dumping was free for all Lawton residents. Turns out some conflicting lines in the city code made it difficult for landfill employees to make sense of and follow the rules. And there was a big problem with fraudulent dumping that this committee hopes the new rules will help clear up.

The Lawton landfill records about 25,000 free disposals per year.

"Up to about half of those are at least fraudulent," Larry Wolcott, Lawton Public Works Director said.

Wolcott said when a contractor or non-Lawton resident shows incorrect identification and dumps for free that is costing the city thousands in revenue.

That's what these changed city codes will try to stop.

"That's something that we're trying to put in black and white and make sure they have a utility bill, they have an ID they match, and they can use the facility," Wolcott said.

This double-verification of Lawton residence is one way to curb the illegal dumpings.

But this summer, Councilman Caleb Davis says the Landfill Committee addressed other problems, including the long list of what residents could and could not dump.

“It was very confusing,” Davis said. “A lot of it was up for interpretation and it was causing quite a bit of anger among the citizens going out there and realizing they had to pay full price to dump some trash that they thought would be at no charge."

That list was taken out of the policy.

The proposed policy caps the number of free disposals for residents to 6 per year. Wolcott said that's based on data from the recycling survey done in 2015. 98 percent of people saying they go to the landfill 6 times or less in a year.

“Actually over 50 percent said they never go to the landfill so again we tried to balance that with not making it too high as well,” Wolcott said

Something added to the policy is going to be new for residents is a one dollar gate fee. For any resident, non-resident or contractor to enter and use the landfill, it's automatically one dollar. Davis said that dollar will go back into Lawton neighborhoods.

"I wanted to create ward accounts where that money goes directly to infrastructure in the wards,” Davis said. “So that money will be divided equally among 8 wards, and it will go directly to infrastructure of repairs in those wards."

At about 100,000 landfill disposals a year, Davis said that could be about 12 thousand dollars each ward can use for themselves

There are ways that residents could be charged for dumping and it's something they should look out for. It's for unsecured loads. For example, if you have a truck bed full of tree limbs that were not strapped down, it's a $25 fee to dump it. Wolcott said those unsecured and uncovered loads could litter the city roads or be dangerous to other drivers.

Copyright 2017 KSWO. All rights reserved. 

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