City to raise bulk trash removal fees

The city of El Dorado will soon charge more to haul off trash in bulk.

El Dorado City Council/Water and Public Works Board members have approved a request from the Department of Public Works to raise fees to pick up bulk waste that is left curbside from construction projects and "cleanouts", piles of household trash that is removed from rental properties after tenants move out.

Starting March 15, the cost for the city to haul away such items will jump from $50 to $100 for small piles; $100 to $200 for medium-sized piles; and $200 to $300 for large piles.

During a discussion about the matter on Feb. 15, Robert Edmonds, director of public works, and Anthony Traylor, city sanitation supervisor, cited inflation, including rising costs for gasoline, tires and maintenance on the city's knuckleboom trucks and hauling away the materials, some of which goes to the Union County Landfill.

The pair also said collecting bulk waste slows down sanitation crews as they go about their daily collection routes for bagged garbage, household trash and yard waste.

"It's been a long time since there's been a rate increase and then the amount of trash that's been generated from rent houses and other things are really consuming a lot of their time," Edmonds said.

"I think it's time to increase that. It's almost a gift to pick it up for what we're picking it up for now," he continued.

Council Member Willie McGhee agreed, saying that he sees a variety of items, including debris from home remodeling projects, piled alongside city streets.

Council Member and former Mayor Frank Hash noted the categories of waste items that are collected by the city include "limbs, white metal ... and household goods."

"So, we're charging for all three of those categories?" Hash asked.

Traylor said a charge is applied if the items are left curbside by contractors or rental property owners.

"How do you distinguish that? Is it obvious or ...?" Hash inquired.

"We see them all day long. We see them with our own eyes," Traylor replied, adding that city workers who are out and about on city business each day take notice of such instances, identify the property owner or contractor, determine the load type and size and generate an invoice.

Added Edmonds, "And it's easy to spot, too. I mean, when there's a pile of trash on the side of the street, that's one thing, but when there's a pile of trash that's the size of this room, obviously, those people (residents) didn't do that."

Hash referred to "cleanouts" and Traylor said people often scavenge through and strew items that have been removed from rent houses and placed curbside, making such scenes even more unsightly.

"And then it's a bigger problem," Traylor said.

"But that property owner will pay for that pickup?" asked Hash. Traylor said yes.

The discussion pointed city officials to another ongoing problem in El Dorado and a city ordinance violation.

McGhee said local residents and businesses who perform lawn care services often blow leaves, lawn clippings, pine straw, hay, limbs and other yard debris into city streets.

"They're not supposed to do that. It's a hard thing to catch," said Edmonds.

For years, city officials have discouraged the practice, saying that leaves and other yard waste clog up the city's storm drains, which can lead to issues, such as flooding during heavy rains.

Council Member Vance Williamson also issued a reminder that it is against city ordinances for lawn care and tree services to leave behind yard waste and debris from cutting down trees.

"They have to take care of that themselves or pay the ($300) fee to have it picked up -- and the same for construction contractors, as well," Williamson said.

Council Member Judy Ward said she has witnessed homeowners blow leaves into city streets and ditches and then burn them.

Ward noted that a permit is required from the El Dorado Fire Department to burn yard waste in a safe manner.

Lawn care services also bring bagged leaves, limbs and other such debris to the city's drop-off recycling center at the corner of Liberty Street and Cordell Avenue, Council Member Dianne Hammond said.

"They shouldn't be taking those there. They should be taking it to the (county) landfill, correct? I know a lot of this is, maybe, done after hours or on the weekends when the recycling center is closed," Hammond said.

"If we can catch them and police department can write some tickets, that would stop immediately," said Edmonds.

The recycling center is just northwest of EPD headquarters.

A sign that is posted at the Liberty Street entrance of the recycling center prohibits large trailers, said Traylor.

Hammond said she has seen lawn care services drop off loads at the facility and leave some of the debris in the street.

Erecting a fence around the facility would prevent people from coming onto to the premises when the center is closed, Traylor suggested.