BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – It started with a bang as residents peppered a city-hired consultant with questions about the new trash cart program being instituted this summer for Fort Madison residents.
Laura Liegois, with Municipal Connections, welcomed about 40 residents into Fort Madison Council Chambers Monday night as part of three community forums set to help residents understand and adapt to the new program that will be in full effect by July 22.
The program will provide, at a minimum, one 65-gallon trash cart to each address in the city. Residents will no longer pay the current $15 per month solid waste fee and additional task stickers will no longer be sold. Each residence will be assessed $15 per month for the new 65-gallon container. A 95-gallon container is available for an additional $2.50 per month.
Resident Jim Inghram jumped into the conversation before Leigois could get started with her presentation, asking how the city can go from allowing two 40-gallon containers to one 65-gallon container at the same cost to residents and say nothing has changed.
“So this is what – a done deal?” Inghram said. “There’s no vote, there’s no ‘hey, were not interested’… no ‘hey, you’ve been lying to us’… this is just take it and shove it right up my butt and like it, huh.”
Liegois said the information that nothing would change with the cost of the program is if residents use the 65-gallon cart.
Inghram said that wasn’t true because he was paying the same $15 but getting less trash hauled away.
“Simple math says I lost 15 gallons,” he said. “According to Facebook there was no change in anything, so if I was paying $15 for 80 gallons, where is the other 15 gallons of garbage going to? City code says two 40-gallon cans per week. That’s 80 gallons per week and according to you, specifically, there was going to be no change, only now all of a sudden I’m 15 gallons short for the same $15 every month.”
Liegois said the carts were industrial and would probably hold more than 65-gallons, but recycling makes the carts even more efficient.
“It’s an industrial cart, it says 65-gallons, but that cart has 10 bags of trash in it,” she said, pointing to the cart in the chambers that had been filled with trash bags.
Mailers will be coming out to residents in May and will indicate how to order the carts. Residents can order more than one cart but would be charged an additional $15 for the 65-gallon or an additional $17.50 for an extra 95-gallon cart per month. There is a June 1 deadline to pick the cart you want. The city will send a 65-gallon cart to each address that doesn’t indicate a size preference.
The cars will be delivered the week of June 11-15th and will be set out in front of the residences.
Liegois said residents should start using the carts as soon as they arrive and, by July 22, no other cans or containers will be accepted.
She also said there will be a holiday from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1. where residents can put one to two extra bags of trash near the new carts and the city will pick those up at no charge.
One resident asked what would happen if a cart was stolen from the property. City Public Works Director Larry Driscoll said the city would replace the cart if notified promptly. He said the carts have coding on them and can be tracked if a situation becomes repetitive.
“We’re gonna get involved if that happens. We have the technology to track those carts and we’ll get the police involved if we think something’s up,” Driscoll said.
Driscoll also said some locations such as High C and Sunnyside may require the city and the property owner working together to find the proper place to put the carts.
He also said it wasn’t city’s plan to eliminate any positions with the new program, but he did say that the city would look at not backfilling positions when employees retired to save money through attrition.
With regard to the stickers, the city has stopped selling them and will allow them to be used through July 20. The city will also be setting a week-long refund period in July where they will buy back any unused stickers.
Two other meetings are planned for city residents. The next is Tuesday, May 1, 2018 at the Fort Madison Public Library, 1920 Avenue E – 10:30 a.m., and the final meeting is set for Saturday, May 12, 2018 also at the library at 10:30 a.m.
Residents can also visit www.fortmadison-ia.com or Facebook for updates on delivery schedule, video on the new solid waste carts, and additional information.