Utilities committee discusses proposed trash ordinance

Published 10:09 am Friday, January 20, 2012

Finance committee meets, discusses police, fire, code enforcement and benefits


Editor’s note: A detailed account of the Ironton City Council Finance Committee meeting will be published in the Sunday, Jan. 22 edition of The Tribune.

The Ironton City Council Public Utilities Committee Thursday discussed in detail the proposed ordinance that would restrict the city’s free dump program to twice a year and eliminate free dumping at Rumpke Recycling.

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Mayor Rich Blankenship had proposed the ordinance as a way of saving the city money.

Right now, city residents can dump unwanted items at the city garage weekly and as often as they choose at the Rumpke recycling facility in Hamilton Township, so long as they present a city voucher. This is in addition to regular weekly curbside household waste pickup.

At last week’s council meeting, councilman Bob Cleary suggested the ordinance be referred to the public utilities committee for further study. The concern was that the ordinance seemed restrictive and would cause littering and open dumping.

“I think we’ll see a tremendous amount of items dumped on the tree lawn and in alleys,” Cleary repeated his concern Thursday night. He suggested the city charge a $20 or $25 fee and continue to let people take their large unwanted items to the city garage weekly as it does now.

Blankenship said it costs more than $30 for each ton dumped to be hauled off so the city is not likely to recoup its costs with a $20 or $30 fee.

But both street superintendent Mike Pemberton and water works superintendent Mike White said the people who most use the free dumping at the city garage and the voucher program at Rumpke are not residents with old sofas but landlords with transient tenants and contractors looking to get rid of remodeling debris without having to pay for it.

“The stuff we see dumped is not the stuff you would see in alleys,” White said. “What we have is people doing handyman jobs and they’re the ones showing up down there. It’s not Mike cleaning out his basement.”

Pemberton said he had gotten a call Thursday from someone wanting to dump at the city garage; he explained the garage only accepts trash 11a.m.-3 p.m. Mondays. The man, armed with a water bill, then got a voucher and took his items to Rumpke.

“He had a dump truck,” Pemberton exclaimed.

“The contractors are ruining it for people who need it,” White agreed.

“I think it is absolutely being abused,” committee member Aaron Bollinger said.

Finance director Kristen Martin pointed out Pemberton could use the money that comes out of his budget to pay for the free dumping to purchase a new dump truck.

“How much trash would build up if we do this (pass this ordinance)?” committee member Mike Lutz wanted to know.

“Not much,” Pemberton replied. “What goes to Rumpke is contractors and landlords.”

Committee chairman Kevin Waldo indicated he would favorably support the ordinance. It had already been given first reading by the full council when it was referred to the finance committee.

The public utilities commission met immediately after the finance committee, which heard from Police Chief Jim Carey, Fire Chief Tom Runyon, Benefits Specialist Katrina Keith and Code Enforcement Officer John Willis. All four department heads discussed their departments, what services they provide and how this impacts the city budget.

Next week prior to the regular 6 p.m. council meeting, the finance committee will meet at 5 p.m. with White and Pemberton to discuss their departments.

Lutz said he is likely to call another finance committee meeting in the near future to continue budget talks.