City of Thomson officials kicked their citywide cleanup effort into high gear last week, passing an ordinance that discourages the removal of grocery shopping carts from parking lots, while also reemphasizing city trash pickup guidelines.
City Administrator Bob Flanders said that over the past few weeks he's been busy revising city trash ordinances, making them easier to understand. He said the next step is to better explain to residents what kind of trash can and can't be picked up.
"In the past we would ride by, wouldn't pick (trash) up, and they'd end up calling us, and communication would be messy," he said.
City officials have drawn up notices that will be given to residents who put out trash that's unable to be collected by the city.
"(In the past) we haven't been even-handed in our approach," said Mr. Flanders. "This is our way of wiping the slate clean, giving everybody public notice and starting anew."
Bulletins were distributed over the last few weeks to most city residents detailing some of the new procedures.
Mayor Bob Knox agreed with Mr. Flanders, saying that trash collection is a problematic issue that needs to be addressed.
"We've had people clean up their backyard, front yard, wherever, pull that (debris) out to the side of the road. They've got lumber, scraps of some tire, and they just throw it out there too. We can't do that, and we can't do that because guys who come by to pick up the trash don't have the capacity to take that other stuff with it."
According to city guidelines, the only types of trash that are picked up by city workers when placed outside the home are leaves, limbs from tree pruning, weeds, grass and hedge trimmings. City officials stressed trash must be separated by type, and that tree limbs must not be longer than four feet.
"The other thing I see a lot of times is that people will get a tree man to take a tree down in their yard, and then they'll throw all that stuff out by the side of the road. If you're going to hire a tree man to take a tree down, the tree man needs to take it all the way to where it eventually winds up," said Mr. Knox.
City officials also said that appliances such as stoves, refrigerators, washers and dryers are also eligible for pickup by the city, but residents need to call city hall to schedule a pickup time.
"If you've got one, call us and schedule, and understand that we might not get there that day or even that week, because we've got other people scheduled all across the city. But if you let us know and give us a little bit of time, we'll come back and get it at the designated time," said Mr. Knox.
If people are interested in having old furniture and other possessions picked up by city workers, Mr. Knox said, there are fees attached to that. The cost will be $100 a trip, with an additional $35 per ton tipping fee.
"We've got to charge people what it costs to get rid of (that stuff)," he said. "We'll tell you up front what it will cost. What we don't want is people putting sofas out in front of their house...We're going to stop that, and if we have to make a case against people for doing it improperly, then we'll make the case."
An ordinance that discourages the abandonment of grocery shopping carts puts pressure on both grocery store owners and the shoppers themselves was passed last week. It stipulates that once a cart is found off the store's property, city officials will notify the store and charge them a fee. The store has seven days to retrieve the cart. If they fail to do so, an additional fee is administered. If the time hits 30 days and the cart is still sitting there, the city will sell the cart. Also, if anyone is caught taking a grocery cart off store property, it will be treated as a misdemeanor.
Mr. Flanders also said that the city plans on enforcing an ordinance aimed at junk cars as well. Those who don't effectively hide any unsightly vehicle will be issued a citation by the Thomson Police Department.