BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – As the city carts in its new residential waste program, a city councilman wants to tweak proposed ordinance changes to help seniors who may have trouble getting their new carts to and from the pick up location.
At Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Fort Madison City Council, councilman Bob Morawitz brought up the issue during a 2nd reading of the new proposed ordinance changes that reflect the city’s new garbage collection system.
Morawitz and city public works director Larry Driscoll engaged in a back-and-forth about language in the ordinance. Morawitz said he wanted language in the ordinance that would allow Driscoll to not only determine where certain residents can place their new garbage carts on pick up days, but also where they can be stored.
Morawitz said his concern was rooted in senior or disabled residents in his district who have steep terraces and won’t be able to haul their new cart down to the curb and back up again.
Driscoll said there is an option in the code that gives him flexibility, but Morawitz said that was only for where to place the cart to be picked up.
“We left it general because when we talked it was to address the hills, and how do you address the hills on D,” Driscoll said. “You’re gonna have to have guys set up a system down there off the curb in the right of way with some type of post the containers are going to have set against because in reality those folks aren’t going to go back and forth with that trash can. And I thought that was acceptable with you guys.”
Morawitz said that language isn’t in the proposed code, and Driscoll said it was, it just wasn’t written the way Morawitz wanted it written.
“If somebody leaves their can by the street, can the city have legal grounds to make them move it,” Councilman Rusty Andrews asked city attorney Robert Johnson.
Johnson said the city owns the city from inside each sidewalk to the other sidewalk across the street and if the ordinance is clear and understandable and there’s a provision for enforcement the city could file a misdemeanor charge.
“The question is whether or not it’s clear,” Johnson said.
Mayor Brad Randolph advised Morawitz to get with Driscoll and City Manager David Varley to work out the language.
“My advice would be for you to get with Larry and David and come up with some verbiage that allows enough flexibility in the ordinance to address those issues and that can be presented at the next reading.”
Morawitz repeated an argument that he has made during the process of rolling out the program, which is that the city bought the carts and started the program without figuring out the logistics.
“We’re not going to shoot the ordinance in the foot. It’s workable.” Randolph said. “Get with those two, come up with additional language that doesn’t alter it enough that we have to start over with the readings. And then we would be able to modify that if the bulk of the council chooses to at the next meeting,” Randolph said.
Morawitz said he also would like to see something else added to the ordinance to allow for special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries because people were able to buy stickers for those special occasions. He said with the proposed ordinance there is no option for people when they generate extra trash.
“I don’t want to be like it is now where you’re buying stickers every week because you don’t want to get a second can. It’s got to be a special thing where you’re limited. Maybe in our bill on Jan. 1 you get two stickers to use for the year and you can use them anytime during the year,” Morawitz said.
Randolph said all the changes amount to defeating the purpose of the new program.
“I appreciate your passion, but you’re trying to make so many carve outs for it, it’s defeating the whole purpose of what we’re trying to do,” Randolph said.
He said Morawitz is not giving residents enough credit for handling things properly, but Morawitz asked why change the trash program if the city can trust people to handle trash properly.
Randolph said it wasn’t just the residents, but streamlining the city’s trash collection process.
Morawitz voted against the 2nd reading of the ordinance, which passed 5-1, but indicated he would get with Driscoll and Varley to work on the language of the ordinance for a possible amendment on the third reading at the next council meeting.
In other action, the council:
-voted on an amendment to the city’s budget for the current fiscal year to accommodate for expenses exceeding the certified budget in 2017, including a $3.2 million amendment for Community and Economic Development for grants for the Barker Downtown project and for a $250,000 cash payment for the Boulders Inn and Suites project from the General Fund. Other smaller expenditures for the Library, Parks Department, Old Fort Reserve Fund, and Marina fund were also amended. A $12.9 million amendment was also made for several wastewater and stormwater projects with funds made up of state revolving loans, general fund reserves, and a loan.
-voted 6-0 to purchase a new sewer video inspection unit for $171,616. They will look at possible trade value for the old piece or put it up for auction to be sold for parts.