Tulsa Trash Troubles Date Back Decades
TULSA, Oklahoma - The concern over changing Tulsa's trash system really is nothing new. Back in 1979 - there was a lot anxiety over the coming changes - among trash haulers, citizens and the politicians.
Rates were low, $3.50 a month, and just as is now - that's in part because the city was subsidizing the costs.
In 1979, Tulsa Mayor Jim Inhofe was trying to transform trash collection - and it was controversial. No one liked the notion of losing automatic backyard pickup - and paying more for what seemed like less service.
"It's only natural when there's change, everybody thinks they're going to be left out of the picture," Mayor Inhofe said.
It was then Mayor Inhofe who pushed for change - after visiting more modern systems in other cities like Houston and Oklahoma City.
Both used private contractors for the majority of the work, and that worried city employees in Tulsa, who didn't want to lose out to a private hauler.
"I don't want him to do it. I don't want to lose my job. If a private hauler can make money off this, I don't see why they city can't. If they would charge a little more money and get some trucks where the men can do their job, there wouldn't be any reason why they couldn't make money off of it," a trash hauler told News On 6 in 1979.
The city held big meetings for citizens - and the trash haulers met too, threatening legal action over all the changes. And when the change happened - there were problems with communication and some Tulsans didn't know what was happening.
The city didn't get cards explaining how it would work printed in time, so people didn't know who was picking up - or where to leave their trash.
Just as back then - the politicians are trying to explain what's going to happen. The city council will try to do that this Wednesday night, with a public meeting to hash out the new trash system - and their limited role in determining what happens next.