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City-issued trash carts to soon be rolled out across Syracuse

 Piles of trash bags scatter the ground in front of a home.
Chris Bolt
The hope is that the large trash carts will make it easier to contain bagged trash like this.

About 10,000 households in select neighborhoods across Syracuse will soon begin using city-issued trash carts as the city moves forward with the initial stages of semi-automating trash collection. The large containers with wheels and lids will roll out starting in April.

City of Syracuse Chief Operating Officer Corey Dunham told Common Councilors Wednesday that there will be a significant public outreach effort through neighborhood groups, mailers and social media to use the trash carts.

"We need to inform those who are receiving carts," Dunham said. "To let them know what to do with those carts, when they'll be receiving and what this change means for them. We also need to communicate to those people who won't be receiving carts right away, to let them know what they should expect."

Dunham said residents in phase one, which covers about 20% of the city, would begin using the new carts in May or June. The rest of Syracuse would follow later in the summer. She said the goal is to improve efficiency, worker safety, and reduce litter.

Department of Public Works Inspector Sam Perry said the carts should address the problems residents have with early or late setouts, which already violate city codes.

"We would address that as it comes up, but the big benefit of it, we won't have the unintended consequences to go along with it," Perry said. "As far as the rodents getting into the trash, the wind blowing it through the neighborhoods. We get a lot of complaints."

Instead of sanitation workers lifting and emptying heavy trash containers into a truck, they would roll the cart to an arm on the truck, which would pick it up and dump the contents. Councilors aren’t opposed to the carts, but many questioned who would get them. Carts will be delivered to households or buildings of one to three units; those with four or more would have to seek a private hauler under a revised ordinance. Driscoll Dunham said it isn’t feasible to serve larger complexes, which are considered commercial properties, rather than residential.

"If we're going to be equitable and provide one cart per unit, how we're going to have 20 carts at the curb..." Dunham said.

"Well, how many carts to you think private haulers are going to have? They're going to have 20 carts there, too," chimed in councilor Pat Hogan.

"They can have a dumpster, they can have pick up two times a week," Dunham replied. "They can work with a private hauler to figure out what works for their building's needs. We need to provide the same, standard service to every single residential property across the board."

Dunham acknowledged the change in service for the larger properties might be difficult at first. She anticipates about $1.4 to $2.1 million dollars in annual combined savings from reduced workers compensation costs and tipping fees. There are no plans to cut positions. The city hopes to implement the recycling program next year.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at