BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A mostly senior crowd filled the Craig Sheaffer Memorial Meeting Room at the Fort Madison Public Library on a rainy Saturday morning as part of the last of three public meetings on the city’s new trash cart system.
Laura Liegois, with Municipal Connections, the firm the city contracted to help roll out the program to city residents, showed a brief slide presentation outlining the program and then opened the session up for questions.
The new carts will be delivered to every city address on file with active residents. Current city residents are charged $15 for solid waste removal as part of their city utility bill. The new program eliminates that $15 bill and replaces it with a $15 monthly charge for a 65-gallon cart. All residences will receive a cart, but they can choose, through a mailer or online registration to pick the larger 95-gallon cart, but that would be an additional $2.50/month. Residents can also request a second cart to be delivered, but would pay the additional $15 or $17.50 depending on the size of the second cart they choose.
Residents will not be allowed to opt out of the program and carts will be delivered to the front of each residence during the week of June 11-15. Postcards went into the mail on Friday to all city residents to provided information on how to select the cart and when they will be delivered. The postcards also provide information on recycling and other details of the program.
Several in the audience questioned why seniors were required to carry such a large container when they may only generate one or two bags of trash per week.
Leigois said she would take the concerns back to the city now that all the public meetings have been held, and told the group that those are frequent questions she’s heard at the meetings. She said the company that is providing the cans does offer a 35-gallon container, but the city hasn’t made that part of the program being offered.
“The city looked at what they thought was the best options for the average user and came up with these two options, but I will take these suggestions back to the city,” she said. “I think you have a great staff here.”
Fort Madison resident Don Mallinger attended the meeting and then checked out the containers afterwards to get a feel for the weight and size.
“I’m happy with it. I hope I never have to fill this up. But I won’t. I’ve seen it before and there’s no way I’m going to put that much trash in it, he said. “I don’t know if you’re more elderly you may want a 35-gallon thing but I’ll try it and see if I can work with it.”
She told the group that when the carts are delivered they will be delivered the front of the residence according to each address so a database can created linking each cart to each address. The carts will then have to be rolled into place where trash is usually collected. The carts cannot be placed in any confinements or fenced in areas. City trucks have been outfitted with arms that will lift and dump the carts, but the system isn’t fully automated yet and staff will have to roll the containers over the trucks and roll them back.
Legois also said the new program is also set up to encourage more recycling which will help ease the burden at Great River Regional Waste Authority, where the city hauls trash for dumping. She said the city is allowing residents to use their current 40-gallon containers as recycling containers if they write “RECYCLE” on the can, in lieu of the current 18-gallon totes.
Legois said she will be on hand during the week of delivery to help with any issues that may come up during that process.