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City leaders discuss solutions to tackle trash troubles in the Northland

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Some solutions are coming to help Northland neighbors fed up with garbage lining their streets. Kansas City council members held a special meeting Tuesday to talk over fixing the trash troubles.

One Northland neighborhood near Worlds of Fun is thrilled there's no trash lining the streets for a change.

"It's gotten better the last couple of weeks," homeowner Sheila Butler said.

But for months, Butler and her neighbors have had multiple missed pick-ups for their trash and recycling. It's an eyesore that quickly becomes an even bigger problem.

"When they don't pick it up on time, you've got all the critters that no longer have a home are down playing in the trash, and it's all up and down the street," Butler said.

"It has to stop. We have got to take action now," Kansas City council member Dan Fowler said.

Fowler also called the Northland trash troubles "abysmal" and a "serious detriment to neighborhoods."

Since the beginning of the year, complaints about the city's trash service have been mounting.

"That's a pretty big list, both sides of the paper, that say where the trash was missed," council member Heather Hall said.

In fact, since January, the city's 311 line's gotten roughly 3,500 trash complaints for neighborhoods south of the river. But up north, the number is more than doubled -- more than 7,500 complaints.

That's why a special committee met Tuesday to figure out what's been going wrong and how to fix it.

"We've been working with the city behind the scenes over the last few months, specifically over the last month with some of the more recent issues in the northland, during the amnesty week and then thereafter," said Al Blease, regional vice president for WCA, the city's contracted hauler.

"The service plan wasn't cutting it is the bottom line of that. So to their credit, they added more trucks," said Michael Shaw with Kansas City Solid Waste.

Four more trucks have been added to Northland routes, which is helping a lot. But down the road, the city knows more needs to be done.

They're taking a serious look at making changes when the trash and recycling contracts expire over the next two years, including requiring residents to use rolling trash bins.

"As a matter of fact, it's what most communities around the country do today. Obviously that's a great solution. It's safer. It's cleaner and requires less people," Blease said.

Bins also can be tracked easier, helping haulers know if and when your waste was collected.

City council members encourage you to contact your representative to let them know your thoughts on rolling bins and if you'd be willing to incur the cost of having one yourself.

The committee also plans to have a progress update meeting in a month to see if the changes to trash pick-up and extra crews are helping, and council members continue to ask anyone who has concerns with trash pickup to report them to 311.

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