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Council to mull trash pickup

January 21, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The Hagerstown City Council is to discuss today a staff proposal to replace the curbside bulk trash pickup program with one in which residents must schedule and pay for the pickup of bulk items.

Twice a year for more than a decade, Hagerstown residents have had a chance to dispose of their unwanted appliances, furniture and other bulk trash items free of charge through the city's curbside bulk trash pickup program.

With the city facing a tight budget in the coming fiscal year, Hagerstown Mayor William M. Breichner and City Council members asked Public Works Manager Eric Deike to explore other options for bulk trash removal within city limits.

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The discussion is scheduled to take place during the 4 p.m. work session at City Hall. No public input is scheduled. The public can comment on the program during the citizens comment section of the Jan. 28 meeting.

Deike proposes that city residents be required to call the Public Works Department to request a pickup. Collections would be scheduled for the first and third Wednesdays of each month.

He suggests the city charge a basic service fee of $20 per load.

Council members have said they think some Hagerstown residents, along with some people who live outside the city, are taking advantage of the city's generosity.

During the bulk pickup periods of two weeks in the spring and two weeks in the fall, the city is divided into four quadrants for scheduling purposes.

"The traditional method of a biannual curbside collection gives the city, quite literally, a trashy appearance for six to eight weeks per year. Also, under the current program, we are unable to prohibit noncity residents from taking advantage of our program by dumping their unwanted items inside our boundaries for us to pick up, causing our costs to increase greatly," Deike wrote in a staff report.

The change would limit future use to city residents and provide the city with additional revenue, he said.

It cost the city about $88,000 - primarily in labor costs and county dump fees - to operate the bulk trash program this fall, Deike said.

City workers hauled more than 300 tons of bulk trash to the county landfill in the fall - a hefty increase from the 126 tons of trash disposed of during the city's spring cleanup effort, said Deike. He attributed a portion of the increase to a new county requirement that all scrap metal be weighed at the dump.

City workers collected 155 tons of bulk trash in spring 2000, 170 tons in fall 2000, 150 tons in spring 2001 and 185 tons of bulk trash that fall, Deike said.

City workers have had to devote up to six weeks a year to a trash removal program slated to take four weeks, he said.

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