Tulsa City Council Discusses How To Fix Green Waste Predicament

Thursday, October 24th 2013, 7:06 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Tulsa's city council often criticizes the trash service, but Thursday, the focus was on green waste, which is being burned rather than mulched.

The council can't change much about the trash service, but they can call on the decision makers for answers. Thursday, they got more than that.

In a city council meeting Thursday, everyone was falling on the sword over green waste. It's turned into a public relations problem for the city and a political problem for the mayor.

"I made that decision, and I'll stand by it," said Dan Crossland, with the City of Tulsa.

Crossland is the department head who decided to burn green waste, after his staff couldn't find any practical way to mulch it without mulching the plastic bags along with it.

8/8/2013 Related Story: Mayor Seeks Changes To Tulsa's Green Waste Program

"I think there was error in judgement in not bringing this up," said City Manager Jim Twombly, who didn't tell the mayor about the problem.

"I want to apologize to the public that we put them in the predicament," said Councilor Jack Henderson.

Like several others, Henderson is angry that the city was charging extra for a service that wasn't really happening.

"A lot of people are upset, because they thought they were doing the right thing. They paid for the green waste to be picked up and taken to the mulch site, and it wasn't happening," said Councilor Karen Gilbert.

The city otherwise successfully transformed the trash service, but the trash board, called TARE, hasn't come up with a plan to recycle the green waste, and hasn't, so far, offered to refund the cost of those stickers Tulsans were required to use.

"So, it was a mistake, they made a mistake and when you make a mistake, you acknowledge it, you move quickly in another direction and hopefully TARE can do that. And by the time it's green waste season again, in the spring of next year, we'll have this thing figured out," said Councilor Blake Ewing.

The council doesn't have direct control over the process, but does control the rates, and many want the rates to change to reflect the reality of the trash service.

The council also approved a change in response times for EMSA and started a discussion about a limit on garage sales Thursday.

The proposed idea is limiting each homeowner to three or four garage sales per year. The question is how to enforce that, so they're looking to see how other cities have solved that problem.