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Jeannette 'City' garbage bag compliance increases, but opposition remains

| Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, 9:02 p.m.
Jeannette City Council members Bill Bedont, Mark Clark, Mayor Robert Carter, Dr. Mark Levander and Kathie Tanyer planned to vote to put the city's recycling contract out to bid at last night's voting meeting. Kristie Linden | The Jeannette Spirit

While the majority of residents are using the city-required black garbage bags that are stamped with ‘City of Jeannette,' some residents still oppose the bags altogether.

Monday night, during the workshop session, councilman Mark Levander said compliance has been very good but, “there are a couple of issues. We haven't written citations yet, but we need to decide what to do citation-wise.”

Council expected to hear from some of the residents opposed to the ordinance during last night's voting meeting, which ended too late for this week's edition.

One of those residents has created a petition online to garner support and to ask City Council to repeal the ordinance requiring the use of city-issued garbage bags.

City solicitor Scott Avolio said that according to third-class city code, such a petition may have needed to be filed within 10 days of council's vote to approve the ordinance. The ordinance was approved last fall. Avolio said he was researching that requirement as he wasn't clear on the dates. Avolio also said the petition must contain only the names of registered voters who live in the City of Jeannette and that the petition needs at least 20 percent of the number of voters who voted in the last mayoral election in the city in order to be considered.

Avolio said he believes it is within the city's authority, as outlined in the third-class city code, to require garbage bags and added, “Additionally, this garbage bag increases recycling, which we are required to do by the DEP.”

Frequently at issue in the garbage bag debate has been a lack of formal notification given to all city residents that the bags were required.

“While it's a nice courtesy to do that in situations that affect each homeowner, it's not incumbent that every resident be personally notified. There is some obligation by residents to take interest in their local government. Ordinances are posted legally before adoption, that is your notice,” said Avolio.

The solicitor referred to the ordinance council passed a few years ago banning farm animals from within city limits.

“The city didn't write a letter to every resident stating that if you have a farm animal, you have to get rid of it. It's how government runs,” Avolio said.

Residents opposed to the garbage bag ordinance have also spoken out on the quality of the bags and how much refuse they can hold.

City officials have said an option for some residents might be to recycle more items to decrease the amount that needs to go into the bags each week.

Residents can put newspapers, clear glass and aluminum cans out at the curb for recycling pick-up. Other items can be recycled by dropping them off at the city garage on North Fourth Street.

Items that can be recycled at the garage include: aluminum beverage cans, aluminum food cans and lids, brown glass containers, clear glass containers, corrugated cardboard, gift boxes, magazines, metal paint cans, paper, motor oil, newspapers, paper bags, paperboard, shredded paper, steel cans and lids. Electrical devices, such as televisions, can also be dropped off at the garage for disposal.

Rich Ault, city foreman, said the paper and newspaper recycling are housed inside the garage, other items can be deposited into large Dumpster-like containers outside the facility.

During Monday's council meeting, Ault asked council to put the city's recycling contract out to bid because he feels the city could earn more money for the items that are recycled.

Potential fines range from $300 to $1,000 for residents who don't use the city-issued bags.

The city-issued 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 is $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 or 724-838-5154.