The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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September 14, 2013

Council nixes service discontinuation

CLINTON — Snowbirds won't be able to dodge the city's monthly solid waste fee anymore. 

The Clinton City Council on Tuesday decided to bar residents from short-term voluntary discontinuation of the city's solid waste service.  

The council took up the issue because some residents had their solid waste container removed during the winter months so their service would be stopped and they wouldn't be charged the monthly flat fee for the service. 

These residents would then request their service be restarted and the cart be redelivered. 

"The city would be spending an inordinate amount of man hours and work that was way over the amount that would potentially be saved by removing the cans," City Attorney Jeff Farwell said.  

City officials estimated the city's cost to redeliver the carts was $75. The solid waste fee that residents are trying to avoid is $6.22 a month. 

While the resolution passed, disallowing the temporary service cutoff didn't receive resounding approval from the council. 

At-large Councilman John Rowland and Ward 1 Councilwoman Maggie Klaes voted against the resolution. 

Klaes said she was concerned that residents who spend their winters in warmer climates will be penalized by being required to pay the solid waste fee even though they aren't producing any garbage.  

City Administrator Jessica Kinser cited the resolution, which calls the city's solid waste program an "essential public function and service which is of benefit to all residents whether or not they avail themselves of solid waste service..." 

The resolution goes on to state the costs for picking up and redelivering the cart as well as the associated staff time and costs of tracking the temporary shut off places a cost burden on the general public. 

Rowland disagreed with the resolution because he believed the city should be able to notify itself that the customer is not using the service by using the computer rather than picking up the solid waste container, calling the latter "tragic."  

"We should have the resources inside City Hall to essentially do this with nothing less than a computer work order. Unfortunately, we don't have a customer list of the people we provide service to so we can't do it," Rowland said. 

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