The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Local News

April 12, 2013

City looks to improve large item pick-ups

Committee to discuss streamlining

CLINTON — Large item pickup hasn’t been axed, but the City Services Committee will discuss ways to streamline and improve the service.

The service was on the chopping block after the City Services Committee recommended not to offer it this year and sent it to the Committee of the Whole for more discussion.

One action that has been suggested, but not taken, is to research the plausibility of having an outside contractor handle large-item pickup. Grounds and Facilities Superintendent Tom Krogman also suggested revising the rules of the large item pick-up program to address some of the problems.

The original intent of the program was to give residents a way to dispose of items that could not be thrown away using a trash bag. With the introduction of the 95-gallon garbage totes, many of these items can be thrown away on a regular garbage day. However, many residents still use the large item pickup for items such as clothes, shoes and more.  

Completing large item pickup also absorbs the time of all six street department employees, Krogman said.  

“With our manpower...you can say to have it out on the first week of August, but the city may not get to it until the third week,” Mayor Mark Vulich pointed out.

The program last year was reduced from two times a year to one. Last year it occurred in August around the same time as a large storm, which further delayed the item pickup.

Building and Neighborhood Services Official Mike Harmon told the council that large item pickup puts a burden of full-time nuisance enforcement on his department for six to eight weeks because of the items that residents leave outside.  

“In my opinion, we’ve created a culture where it’s OK to throw your stuff on the curb. And because of that people throw their stuff on the curb and either wait for us to come tell them to pick it up or wait for us to come pick it up for free. That process, I believe, costs us time and money that could be spent on other things to beautify our city,” Harmon said.

At Large Councilwoman Jennifer Graf suggested that instead of eliminating the large item pick-up program, the nuisance ordinance could be changed to make its enforcement easier for Harmon’s department.

“To penalize the people who do the right thing and need it for the right reasons isn’t really fair either. The majority of the people do the right thing and put out the right objects and do it at the right time of the year,” Graf said. “I think taking away one simple action of a yearly large item pickup, it’s too much and I think we need to continue it.”

Graf suggested an ordinance specifically addressing large item pickup that would allow the city to cut out some of the steps required to cite someone for a nuisance.

At Large Councilman Charlie Mulholland cast the lone dissenting vote to send the large item pick-up program back to City Services.

Mulholland and Ward 4 Councilman Paul Gassman voted no to have Rules and Regulations discuss a nuisance ordinance that would address large item pickup.  

During the City Council meeting, council members unanimously agreed to stop selling white good stickers.  The program allowed residents to buy a sticker for $10 and place it on an item such as a refrigerator, microwave or dishwasher and have it hauled away by the city. However, the cost of the sticker could not support the program. 

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