Lawton residents face trash troubles

Lawton_Some Lawton residents may have come home to a nasty surprise Monday night.  Their trash was still on the curb instead of on its way to the dump.  Early in January, the city council ruled on trash collection procedure.  Households could set out three 35-gallon containers full, or six plastic trash bags - or a combination - for pick up.  Now, the grace period for compliance is over, and if you're not following the new code - or if your trash bags are ripped - your trash is on the curb to stay.  Some residents are upset about the new regulation and want an explanation.

The city says you can take your trash to the dump at no charge, but if your cans are bigger than stipulated in the code, or if your bag is ripped, public works will not be taking away your trash.

Lawton resident Kassie Wear is one of those who are upset about the new regulations - she says it's not fair.  "I mean, this is not hard to pick up and throw away.  These are boxes that can be easily crushed and they refuse to do it," she says.  "They refuse to pick up anybody's trash.  They're being paid to do a service that they're not doing, and I don't understand why we should have to be paying for it."

A lot of Lawton citizens agree with Wear, and you can be sure the city's sanitation department heard about it Monday.  They were flooded with calls wanting an explanation as to why their trash was not picked up.

Assistant Superintendent of Solid Waste Collection Jayson Powell says the changes are beneficial, especially since bags can now be left outside of the cans.  "What's changed in the code has allowed you to either put out another can, or up to six bags now, where before you weren't even able to put out bags," he says.

But, Wear says not everyone can afford a new can or take a trip to haul trash to the dump.  "These elderly people just two doors down from me, they don't even have a vehicle, much less a pickup truck to take their trash out to the dump," she says.

Powell says they received about 250 calls Monday.  Despite the complaints, he says the new ordinance is a good thing and will help the city save money until everyone's cans are replaced by new 95-gallon containers.  Meanwhile, Wear is offering her help to neighbors who aren't able to take care of their trash on their own - but, not without a catch.  "What I'm going to do is pick up everybody's trash that they can't pick up, and I'm going to deliver it to the dump, and then I'm going to demand payment [from the city]," she says.

Lawton residents pay $12.17 monthly for garbage services.  So, if you have six bags of trash for every pick up, that averages to about a quarter for every bag of trash removed.  Powell says citizens are expecting too much labor for the amount they pay for the city's service.  "The ones that are wanting us to continue picking up their 55 or 45 gallon can are actually asking us to do more than what they are paying for."

For Lawton residents using the new automated carts, it's less complicated.  If trash doesn't fit in the bin, it's not going on the truck.  Count on 7News to keep you updated on this story.

7News Reporter, Kenny Scarle