Beginning in October, City officials believe the streets will become much cleaner. At least that is the intention of a new City ordinance that will go into effect on October 3rd that will require residential trash being placed outside for City pick-up to be in either a barrel or a City bag. City Manager Jay Ash, the architect of the new trash plan, says that the new program is specifically aimed at keeping household trash from blowing around neighborhood streets.
“The improper placement of household trash is a significant contributor to the litter we see in our neighborhoods. I’m frustrated about it, but, more so, many, many residents are frustrated with the way that some of their neighbors put their trash out for pick-up. Well, the new City ordinance is going to require stronger bags or barrels as a way of keeping our city clean,” emphasized Ash.
Ash, who is known to be out in the community with a shovel and a broom cleaning up in his spare time, says he makes no apology for charging residents for bags.
“The City isn’t making any money off of this process. This is all about treating our city and our law abiding residents with more respect. Too many have neglected that civil and civic obligation, so now it’s time to tighten the rules and do a heavy dose of enforcement,” stressed Ash.
During a series of public meetings he held to get input from residents about the new trash plan, Ash said there was overwhelming support for making people put their trash out in a way that would not contribute to the dirtiness of the city.
“Folks are fed up, and who can blame them. Many do the right thing, and put their trash out in strong bags and covered barrels. But then there are others who think that any bag is a trash bag, be it a shopping bag, a dry cleaning bag, or if they use any bag at all. This new process will make everyone adhere, or heavy fines will be felt,” warned Ash.
Fines will begin at $25 and go up into the hundreds of dollars for repeat offenders. A new part-time solid waste enforcer will be hired by the City to just focus on making sure residents comply with the ordinance.
“We don’t want to fine anyone, but we’re prepared to do so if irresponsible residents put their trash out with no regard for their fellow neighbors or our community standard. The cost of the bags isn’t much more expensive than the appropriate bags people now buy in stores. So, if you’ve been buying the right bags, you shouldn’t notice a real difference in cost. However, if you haven’t been buying any bags, it will either cost you to now buy bags, or you always have the free option of putting your trash out in a barrel,” explained Ash.
The cost of the City bags has not been set, but is in the range of $0.25 for a small bag and $0.30 for a larger bag. The bags will be all one color, making the trash on the sidewalks look neater and the job of enforcing much easier.
“Other communities sell bags to raise revenue; we aren’t doing it for that reason. Again, I stress, we aren’t making an extra cent off of selling bags. Folks can avoid the charge by properly using a barrel, and, of course, recycling is for free as well,” advised Ash.
Barrels are not required to be covered when placed out for pickup, but are required to be covered when trash is stored in a yard. Any trash put in a barrel can be put in any bag, but any bag must be at least partly in a barrel to comply with the new ordinance.
“We’re not going to let people just pile any old bag on top of their barrels. Those bags will fall, split open and allow their contents to litter our streets. The bags we will sell through area stores is thick and will keep splits to a minimum, reduce the likelihood that animals eat into the bags, and make it more likely that trash ends up where it belongs, in a trash truck and not creating blight in our neighborhoods,” added Ash.
Ash said more education and information will be released during the month of September, including identification of stores where the bags can be purchased. No bags will be available for sale at City Hall.
“We aren’t set up to be retailers, and I’m sure that retailers will be happy to participate in the program. We’ll allow retailers to add a penny or two to the cost of a bag as a handling expense, and the buying of the trash bags will be as easy as it currently is,” predicted Ash.
Ash notes that at a recent public meeting, litter was again identified by residents as their number one complaint.
“Improper placement of household trash isn’t the only cause of our litter issues, but it is a significant one. We’ll be cracking down on consumer trash issues as well, like fast food wrappers and scratch tickets,” noted Ash.
Ash says he appreciates the scores of people who have weighed in on the ordinance change and support the move to a barrel or City bag only.
“Many of us have already done a great deal to clean-up our city, and many more of us want to be in a cleaner place. Big items dumped illegally are a rarity now, but the small litter continues to linger. We as a community are determined to win the war on trash, and the new trash policy is our best weapon in that fight,” concluded Ash.