Council discusses new trash contract

Members of Marietta City Council’s special utilities committee talked “trash” Tuesday as they discussed bid specifications for a new five-year solid waste hauling contract. The current contract with Rumpke Inc. expires this spring.

Councilmen Roger Kalter, D-1st Ward, and Tom Vukovic, D-4th Ward, asked if the new contract could include collection of yard waste. Currently city residents can dispose of their grass and hedge clippings and other yard waste at Greenleaf Landscapes on Muskingum Drive instead of putting it out for weekly trash pickup.

“But I get calls from constituents who are elderly and can’t get their yard waste to Greenleaf,” Vukovic said. “Is there any way they can have that waste hauled away? Also grass clippings get blown into the streets and clog storm sewer drains.”

Kalter added that those clippings, which may be from chemically-treated lawns, are eventually washed into area streams that may be contaminated by the chemicals.

But adding yard waste to the trash hauling contract could be costly to city residents, according to Rob Reiter, coordinator for the SouthEastern Ohio Joint Solid Waste Management District.

“We can add bulk yard waste to the contract bid specifications, but if that service is offered it’s going to be expensive,” he said.

Reiter said the trash hauler would have to run a separate route, truck and driver to collect the yard waste, which would add more cost to the contract.

In the end the committee members asked Reiter to include yard waste as a bulky item pickup in the contract bid specifications.

The committee hopes to have solid waste contract legislation ready for introduction during the next city council meeting at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 17 in the community building at Lookout Park.

In other business

Council’s planning, zoning, annexation and housing committee members discussed updating the city’s use of the International Property Management Code to address problems with blighted and neglected properties.

“The city has been operating on a 12-year-old property management code that needs to be updated,” Kalter said. “This is a major issue. One of these properties is in a neighborhood near the (Marietta) middle school. There’s animal waste inside the house and it’s completely open in the back where kids could easily get in.”

He said property nuisance complaints have been filed for nine years against the abandoned home’s owners, but the city is still having to deal with the problem.

Kalter said another dangerous property is owned by a multi-millionaire who told Kalter he had insurance coverage if anyone would be injured around the abandoned dwelling.

“I’m not concerned about insurance, I’m concerned about safety-a child could be hurt there,” he said. “We have a lot of unsafe housing in this community.”

Vukovic noted that if the city develops an ordinance based on the International Property Management Code, a code enforcement officer would have to be hired.

City law director Paul Bertram III agreed.

“The real question is enforcement,” he said. “You can have a 1998, 2002 or 2012 property management code, but it doesn’t matter if there’s no enforcement.”

Bertram noted the city currently has a nuisance property ordinance, but the law basically has no teeth, and forces the city to use a lengthy process to take legal action against owners of abandoned and blighted properties.