The Bowling Green City Commission is set to soon address a proliferation of donation drop boxes throughout the city.
The topic was discussed during a commission work session this week, and city staff are expected to present some policy ideas next month.
Mayor Bruce Wilkerson, who brought the topic up for commission consideration, said he had several people bring the issue to him.
The drop boxes are both an aesthetic problem in the city and create line-of-sight issues for drivers, Wilkerson said.
“I just think people appreciate having a nice-looking community,” he said.
Some charitable organizations are also concerned that the organization putting out the drop boxes are not being transparent about how donations are used, he said.
Possible solutions include instituting a registration process to allow drop boxes or allowing the City-County Planning Commission to control them through the planning process, Wilkerson said.
Another suggestion brought up during the meeting was prohibiting drop boxes unless they are on the property of the organization they serve.
Jonathon Sturdivant, who has worked at St. Vincent de Paul in Bowling Green for three years, said his organization doesn’t use drop boxes because people often place items there that the organization can’t use.
“People just put so much junk in there,” he said.
Instead, St. Vincent de Paul picks up large items and accepts items inside the premises, Sturdivant said.
Commission members heard from representatives of The Salvation Army and Goodwill during their discussion of the topic Tuesday.
Carl Metz, government liaison for Goodwill Industries of Kentucky, said donations in many of the drop boxes go out of the community in which they are donated.
It’s sometimes not transparent how donations in those drop boxes are used. In some cases for-profit companies may be the primary beneficiary without that being clearly indicated on the box, he said.
The boxes can also create visual pollution when they are not emptied regularly and spill out, Metz said.
Maj. Edward Binnix, commanding officer of the Bowling Green Salvation Army, told commission members that he doesn’t have drop boxes in Bowling Green because he doesn’t have the manpower to check them every day.
He said he’s concerned that donations made to drop boxes in the city may not be remaining in the community.
“I think Bowling Green resources should stay in Bowling Green and help the people that are here,” Binnix said.
However, he said that a potential ban of the boxes also raises some concerns.
“What concerns me is, if we can say ‘no’ to drop boxes, we can say ‘no’ to kettles,” Binnix said.
Donations in kettles during the holiday season represent about 20 percent of Salvation Army revenues for the year, he said.