City of Tulsa spent nearly $1 million on Know Your Trash campaign to educate Tulsans on new service

TULSA - We've been talking trash for years now.

It started in 2011 when the City of Tulsa decided to change its trash service. Then 11 months ago, the city of Tulsa went to a cart system. You pick your cart and also have recycling and green waste options.

To let you know about the changes in service, the city hired a private PR firm.

It produced television and newspaper ads, along with flyers and mailers.

"It was important to share with customers what it was changing, how it was changing and when," said Liz Hunt, a trash spokesperson for the City of Tulsa.

The 2NEWS Investigators have obtained all the invoices for the "Know Your Trash" campaign.

The expenses included: banners at Drillers games to advertise, tens of thousands of dollars in newspaper ads and half a million dollars for mailings. The total cost so that you could learn about your trash came in at almost $1 million.

"It seems like a lot of money," said Tulsan Ruben Contreras.

Contreras just moved to Tulsa from Houston and says he had no problem figuring out the trash system on his own.

Neither did Dock Melton. In fact, when we asked if the ad campaign helped him better understand the change in service he said, "To be honest, I didn't really pay attention to that. I really just asked people around me."

The campaign is paid for through the trash board's reserve fund. Everyone that pays for city trash is paying for the campaign.

"It's a lot of money. Yah, I think that was a waste," said Melton.

Still the City of Tulsa and the city's trash board stand by the campaign.

"Having nearly 117,000 customers, we as a municipality had a responsibility to communicate what was happening, when it was happening," said Hunt.

More spending is to come. $700,000 is budgeted for the next two years as continuing education, meaning more money will be spent to get the word out on things like recycling and green waste.

While the city boosts the PR campaign's success, the taxpayers we talked to call it, well, garbage.

Bartlesville just made a similar trash change.

While it has 16,000 customers, a lot less than Tulsa, it spent less than $5,000 to get the message out. The Director of the Public's Work Department said when the change rolled out it went smoothly.

If you want the 2NEWS Investigators to track your tax dollars send us an e-mail at investigators@kjrh.com.

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