London looking into changes for trash pick-up

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(Posted Dec. 27, 2018)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

The London Board of Public Utilities (BPU), with input from city council, is looking for ways to eliminate its pay-as-you-throw trash bag system and still maintain trash pick-up as a city-run service.

Steve Scaggs, BPU board member, is putting together a focus group to further discuss and research the issue. At the Dec. 20 city council meeting, Council President Joe Russell said Scaggs hopes to schedule a special meeting soon.

Council member Anthony Smith said he is “very optimistic” BPU and the city can come up with a system everyone will like–both residents and the city’s sanitation workers. A committee is considering ideas for how that system would work. They also are comparing in-house sanitation services versus outsourced services–costs and what residents get for the money.

“What we all agree on is that we want to eliminate the bags,” Russell said.

Currently, city residents put their trash in city-specific trash bags or in their own trash bags. The charge for large city trash bags is $1 each; the charge for small city trash bags is 75 cents each. Residents are charged $2 per bag if they use their own trash bags.

No fees on vacant businesses

On Dec. 20, council unanimously voted down a proposal to assess fees on vacant business properties. Council member Henry Comer introduced the idea a couple of months ago, but upon further research and feedback, encouraged his fellow council members to scrap it.

The goal of the proposal was to promote the cleanup of eyesore properties and to identify buildings that could present fire or other safety hazards.

In committee meetings, city leaders, business owners and residents suggested the city take a more constructive approach, Comer said. They proposed that the city find ways to help business owners improve and maintain their properties, rather than assess what some saw as a penalty.

Comer said he likes the idea of promoting economic development, suggesting the city appropriate money that could be used as matching funds for business owners who make improvements to their properties.

Comer also stated that the city is not set up to handle the enforcement the assessed fees would have required. The city contracts with Paul Oswalt for code enforcement services. Oswalt’s contract is for 10 hours per week.

6 E. Second St. sold

The city has sold its 6 E. Second St. property. It housed the mayor’s office, safety-service director’s office, and council chambers, all of which are now housed at the new city hall at 20 S. Walnut St.

The bid opening took place on Dec. 18. Three bids were submitted. The sale went to the highest bidder, Matt Yerkes of Grove City, for $65,000. Yerkes is executive director of Cultivate, a company in Grove City that provides coaching and workspace for business startups.

With the sale of the building, council meetings will now take place at 20 S. Walnut St., starting with the next regular meeting on Jan. 3. Council passed an ordinance setting the new meeting location. Days and times remain the same–the first and third Thursdays of the month at 6:30 p.m. The ordinance also allows council to change its meeting location with 24 hours notice. All meetings are open to the public.

Union contracts/Other Salaries

Council approved collective bargaining agreements with the city’s fire and police unions. Both contracts are for three years. The police contract includes separate sections for dispatchers, patrolmen and sergeants. Council passed the approvals as emergencies so they could go into effect immediately.

Council also approved new salary ranges for city department heads and non-union personnel. The ranges set the minimum and maximum salaries the city can pay for these positions.

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