Council discusses trash collection

Jeff Guy

The Wellington City Council and Director of Public Works Jeremy Jones discussed trash collection at its most recent meeting, last week.

The Council approved an ordinance on collection of refuse, which read that residents should furnish their own container with a tight lid “the size of which shall not exceed 45 gallons unless otherwise purchased or provided by the city.”

Any containers at the time of passage of the ordinance in excess of 45 gallons shall be allowed to remain in service “provided all garbage is inside plastic bags that can be pulled out of the container and the container will not require lifting to be emptied.”

Prior to the vote, Jones told the council, he had been helping trash collectors in the past few weeks “and I was astonished by the number of large automated cans and unfortunately the size and weight of these make it very difficult over the course of day after day after day. My fear is we’re going to wear people out” and they will go to different jobs.

A few days after the meeting, on the city’s website, Jones wrote, “Bagged trash will be picked up by sanitation crews and eliminate the need for customers to purchase smaller containers.  The City Code has provided for the 45 gallon container limit since 1996 or before, but the number of large containers ranging from 65 to 96 gallons that are made for automated services has increased significantly in recent years.  This has several negative impacts on the service, all of which increase the cost of the operation, most notably the increased risk of injury to workers.  These costs would have to be passed on to the customer by raising the monthly fee which is an increase we do not wish to implement.”

Two of the city’s four collection trucks have cart tippers and are capable of lifting large containers, but crews without cart tippers have to physically lift the cart, which is sometimes over 100 pounds, Jones wrote in his memo.

“It would cost approximately $20,000 to retrofit the remaining two trucks,” Jones wrote.  “This would be an unbudgeted expense and again have to be passed on to our customers.”

The ordinance also contained a section referencing bulk items like furniture and appliances. The city is seeing a lot of these and have handled them by having the customer call the sanitation supervisor to discuss a special pickup and charge.

In other business:

The council approved raising Wellington Fire/EMS’s extrication fee and motor vehicle assessment fees. In a memo, Fire/EMS Chief Tim Hay said, “I estimate we would receive an additional $35,000 per year with these additional charges. Mediclaims has agreed to assume the billing of motor vehicle accidents.

Hay also said fireworks can be sold and discharged from July 1 through 4 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. On July 4, fireworks can be set until midnight. The public was asked to clean fireworks residue from the street and Hay urged people to leave fireworks wet overnight.

The council - at the request of Assistant City Manager for Utilities, Jason Newberry -  approved a design contract with PEC for the sanitary sewer and waterline that needs to be extended to the future location of the BNSF Yard office east of town.

Council member Joe Soria expressed concern about people speeding around Wellington Lake.

“There are kids out there and all it takes is someon getting stupid behind the wheel and someone gets killed. Whoever is out there speeding, slow it down.”

Soria also expressed frustration about people dumping trash and furniture in the country.

“To do something like that, it boggles me,” Soria said. “If you’re going to drive by the landfill, why not dump it there?”