Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5 News
A new garbage collection program is in the works at Dallas City hall, but officials who have already bought almost $169,000 in equipment haven't told councilmembers about the purchase or the plan.
A new plan to collect commercial garbage is quietly brewing at Dallas City Hall.
City officials have even purchased and received new equipment for it but have not told City Council members about it, and they declined a television interview about it Thursday.
In January, the city took delivery of 4,000 black and yellow carts for the program.
The carts are being kept in a storage lot on Good Latimer Expressway near Canton Street.
Which Wich Sandwich shop on Main Street is one of a handful of businesses that have already been provided with the new carts for city garbage collection.
The shop has no room for a commercial trash dumpster, so the carts are kept in the back of the store and rolled out for daily curbside trash pick.
Before receiving the carts, the store was placing trash in plastic bags at the curb.
"We want Dallas to look really nice, and unfortunately we weren't given any other option for a long, long time, so this is a much better option," store manager Lindsay Macedo said.
Sanitation Department spokeswoman Danielle McClelland confirmed that the carts were purchased from a vendor approved by the City Council in February 2010 for the purchase of blue and gray carts for household recycling and garbage collection.
Back-up information presented to the council at that time said nothing about yellow carts or a business trash collection program.
"We never want to put the cart before the horse," said Councilman Scott Griggs. "And we certainly don’t want to do that here, so best practice is the have the policy discussion up front."
Griggs said policy discussions with the City Council are normally conducted before the city makes an equipment purchase for a new program.
"I'd like to hear the costs and the benefits. Also, I'd like to hear from stakeholders. Anytime we make a policy decision, we like to reach out to various stakeholders, people in the industry as well as people whose garbage we'd be collecting, to get their feed back on the program, too," Griggs said.
McClelland said city law provides the sanitation department with authority to collect garbage from businesses, even though there is no mention of the service on the city's website.
She said the city does already serve many business customers who have arranged for pickup by telephone.
The new carts would replace bags or gray carts that some businesses are using now.
The new yellow carts would also be offered to new business customers in an expanded program to be announced soon.
A spokesman for a trade organization representing large commercial haulers that work in Dallas said the private companies will not oppose the new city competition as long as the city uses only 96-gallon containers for business trash collection and does not enter the dumpster trash collection business, which is their main source of revenue.
Macedo said the city's new yellow carts, in storage since January, should have already been distributed to more small businesses.
"Oh, certainly, absolutely -- I think it would make things a lot more clean and sanitary and smell better for sure," she said.
Griggs said going public with the program will likely wait a few more months because the City Council is on recess through July and a full City Council briefing on the plan can not be scheduled until August.
"Once it comes up to the council, we'll definitely want to reach out to all the stake holders, no matter what the issue is," he said.