Residents speak out on city garbage bags
By Kristie Linden
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
During last week's meeting, Jeannette City Council heard from several residents expressing concern about the new ordinance requiring the use of city-sold garbage bags.
One resident said he was concerned that people would begin filling up Dumpsters illegally to avoid buying and using the city-required bags.
“My first issue is that no notification was sent out,” said Shane Steiner, a resident. “I found out by a third party otherwise I wouldn't have known. The city's website is outdated, all the links are broken. How are you supposed to enforce something if you haven't told people about it.”A grace period to get residents used to the new rule, and to give time to purchase the correct bags, is drawing to a close.
Letters will be sent to residents who don't comply with the new law to ensure everyone is aware of the new rules. Once a letter is sent, a resident will have about one week to comply before the property maintenance officer issues a citation. Potential fines range from $300 to $1,000 for residents who don't use the right bags.
Rich Ault, city foreman, said he will join the property maintenance officer in handing out fliers alerting residents to the new ordinance this next week.
“I understand your concern about the lack of updated information on the website,” said Councilman Mark Levander.
Steiner said it was the city's responsibility to send out a notice of a change in service and suggested the information should have been included in the last garbage bill sent to residents.
“All of my other service providers send notices of changes in my service,” said Steiner.
Mayor Robert Carter said council has limited control over the office that sends out the garbage bills.
Steiner also questioned the city's choice to return to required garbage bags. The bags were used previously, but when the cost of petroleum increased the cost of the bags increased too much to make the program feasible. Ault said that is no longer an issue.
Carter said the hope is that the bag requirement will encourage more residents to recycle more of their trash and Levander said council is looking to increase the amount and type of materials residents are able to recycle, soon.
“Instead of raising garbage rates across the board, this is a usage fee,” Ault said. “If a person puts out six bags they pay the same as our seniors who put out one bag. We're also trying to reduce what we take tot he landfill, but it's a process.”
“I have no problem with the bags, but I feel like there should have been a notice sent to all homeowners,” said Jeff DePalma, resident and former councilman. “Do we have a leg to stand on without proper notification?”City solicitor Scott Avolio said council is not required to notify property owners of changes in ordinances.
Once this grace period officially ends, garbage that is not placed in the correct bags, which are black and stamped with a City of Jeannette logo, will initially be left on the sidewalk long enough to be documented.
Ault said the garbage will be photographed for evidence and then the garbage will be collected.
All garbage will be picked up, regardless of the bag used because to leave rubbish unattended is a public health concern.
Those who still fail to comply, will be issued a summary citation and each day they remain in violation will constitute a separate offense.
The city-required bags are now on sale at the city treasurer's office in City Hall and at Duncan True Value Hardware on Lowry Avenue.
The bags are black with a white logo and will hold 32 gallons of garbage.
Cost will be $6.50 for a roll of 25 bags.
Council expects the bags to generate around $65,000 in revenues in 2013.
Duncan True Value Hardware is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The city is seeking other business to sell the bags. Interested business owners should contact City Hall at 724-527-4000.
Kristie Linden is an editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-838-5154.
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