By PETER HUSSMANN
The Newton City Council on Monday will discuss the possibility of re-establishing its Spring Clean-up program in some fashion as part of the goal of reducing instances excessive junk properties and having a clean-looking city.
For 15 years, ending in 2007, the city held annual clean-up weeks where residents were able to place certain unwanted items at their curbs for pick-up by city crews. While the program was successful in eliminating junk, clutter and fire hazards from local properties, the effort was also caused some problems. For the two week period the junk was being collected, the city looked in disarray, people rummaged through the piles, residents from outside the community brought their junk into town and costs kept escalating until a service fee was imposed on all residents, including those not participating in the program. In the final year of the program, the cost was more than $82,000.
Now, with a renewed effort going forward at enforcing nuisance ordinances pertaining to junk, the council will look at re-establishing the program as part of the effort.
In a memorandum to council members on the matter, Public Works/Parks Director Keith Laube outlined several options the council might consider in meeting the goals of having a clean city, preventing property values from declining due to junk in yards and reducing the health and fire risks associated with accumulated junk.
First, Laube suggested that while city crews might still collect the trash, the city might be divided into several more areas so the junk does not remain curbside for more than a few days. To cover costs, a $1 to $2 monthly fee might be placed on the garbage collection bill.
Another option might be to hire a contractor to collect and haul the unwanted items to the landfill. Contractor bids would be based on tons of materials taken to the landfill. After the clean-up operations are complete and costs known, a 12-month, pro-rated surcharge fee could be placed on the garbage collection bill to pay for the service.
Laube also suggested the City might either negotiate with its current garbage collection service provider, Dodd's, to provide the service or include the service when the next refuse collection contract is up for bid in June 2014.
Finally, Laube suggested the City could continue to do what is presently doing, requiring homeowners to be responsible for disposing of their own unwanted items and enforcing the nuisance ordinances on properties with excessive junk.