ASK ANN

"Do you know of any municipalities that have in place or have tried to implement a 'Carry In/Carry Out' plan for parks and other public areas? I understand some areas have removed trash and recycling receptacles and require visitors to take home what they bring. Any information?" Alan Bleam, Director of Public Works, Plumstead Township, Bucks County, PA

The idea gives a whole new meaning to the term of "Bag and Wag" doesn't it? I really haven't found much information on this program so I'm asking our readers to offer some insight. If you'd like to send me your information, I'll include it in an upcoming edition of the APWA Reporter. However, I'm sure Alan would appreciate having responses sooner than that and you can contact him at ableam@plumstead.gov.

"Is there ever a federal agency that releases their regulations in an understandable language that most of us speak? Seems like 'legalese' most times. I'm specifically looking for some information on environmental regulations."

Boy, have I got a deal for you. The Office of Policy, Economics, and Innovation, at the Environmental Protection Agency, has recently released a "plain-language guide" to EPA's regulatory development process. The guide is entitled Regulations: A Vital Tool for Protecting Public Health and the Environment. The pamphlet is available for downloading on the EPA website at www.epa.gov/opei/regulatory/booklet. While it doesn't cover specific regs, it does make it easier to understand the process involved in the development and offers links to several other helpful websites. Hope this helps.

"It's that time of the year again when everyone wants to have some special event which will have a direct impact on our city's property and resources. No one department in our city manages the entire process but we (Public Works) seem to get more than our share of the 'dirty duties.' Any thoughts on how we might make this process easier for both the citizens and the staff?"

Having begun my public career as an Event Coordinator for the Chamber of Commerce, I know exactly what you're talking about. Always hated to see the spring come 'round because I knew I would begin my weekly round of city offices trying to get someone to give me specific instructions on what they wanted from my group in exchange for using the city parks and staff. When I finally entered professional city government administration, one of my first projects was to develop a "Special Events Guide." We formed a working group from each department of the city and outlined every issue that could possibly arise during a special event. From parking and traffic control, which are always with us, all the way down to sales tax licenses for vendors, porta-potty duties, and cleanup by volunteers as well as city staff. We compiled the permit form and were met with irate comments from users because "they" were now going to be held accountable to do some thorough planning for their events, too. Included in the Guide was a contact list so event organizers could easily reach the people who could help them with permits and requirements. Try getting your act together and then post the event permit requirements on your website. We never charged a fee but we certainly improved communications.

"We have some newly-elected Council people and they are, once again, suggesting that we should privatize our solid waste collection and are even talking about outsourcing the sludge disposal from the plant. Any idea what the current thinking is on these issues?"

A recent report entitled Public Works Services: Local Government Delivery Choices, Special Data Issue, published by the International City/County Managers Association (ICMA), found that slightly more than half (55 percent) of residential solid waste collection services are handled by the private sector through contracts with private firms (39.4 percent) or franchises (15.6 percent). Many attribute this to the closing of publicly-operated landfills and the need to contract with a provider who has their own.

Ask Ann...

Questions are welcome.

Please address all inquiries to:

Ann Daniels
Director of Technical Services
APWA, 2345 Grand Blvd.
Suite 500
Kansas City, MO 64108-2625
Fax questions to (816) 472-0405
E-mail:
adaniels@apwa.net