City-county pact over trash OK’d

  • Ledger file photo by Mike W. Ray Trash bags, a wooden box and broken shelves were laying in the bar ditches on either side of Railroad Street within a mile of Pecan Road on Monday.

LAWTON – The Lawton City Council on Tuesday endorsed a 10-year agreement with the Comanche County Commissioners over the collection and disposal of litter that appears along county roads.

The two governmental units “desire to cooperate in keeping the City and County a safe, clean and healthy community” by having “trash, refuse and debris” removed from public property and rights-of-way, the agreement states.

It is mutually beneficial to both parties for the county to use the city landfill to dispose of trash and other debris that collects on rights-of-way along county roads, constituting “health and safety hazards,” the agreement relates.

The Lawton City Council voted last December to triple from $1 to $3 the gate fee at the sanitary landfill south of town off 11th Street. Two-thirds of the proceeds from the increased fee are to be used by the 11-member Lawton Enhancement Trust Authority to finance litter abatement operations at the landfill “and along travel routes that are used to haul solid waste to the landfill,” an ordinance specifies.

Under the agreement the City Council approved Tuesday, the $3 gate fee and the per-ton tipping fee charged for each load of trash dumped at the landfill were waived for Comanche County 

County Commissioners Alvin Cargill and Gail Turner said their crews routinely collect three to four loads of trash from roads in their districts each week and dispose of the debris at the city landfill.

A typical haul includes sofas, mattresses, tree limbs and shrubs, construction materials, refrigerators, stoves and other appliances. “We average two to three bobtail loads a week,” said Turner, whose district includes the landfill, and Cargill said his crews collect at least one load a week.

“People drive out there and find out the landfill is closed, or they learn what the gate fee and the dump fee will cost, so they turn around and just toss the stuff into the bar ditches,” Cargill said. “I’m sure it’s not all Lawton’s trash, but the lion’s share is.”

Lawton Mayor Stan Booker concurred. “Since we account for 75% of the county population, I suspect most of that trash comes from the city.”

Jan. 1, 2021, is the target date for reducing residential trash collection in Lawton from twice-a-week to once-a week pickup, coupled with once-a-month neighborhood bulk trash collection, Deputy City Manager Richard Rogalski said recently. “We still have to buy some equipment before we can implement those changes,” he said. For example, “We expect that when we go to once-a-week residential collection, a lot of residents will want a second 90-gallon polycart.”