The Dalton City Council voted 3-1 Monday to modify its rubbish and yard trimmings ordinance, spelling out more clearly what the city will and will not pick up and asking the citizens call ahead for pickup.
Council member Tyree Goodlett voted against the measure, and Mayor David Pennington typically votes only in the event of a tie. Those who violate the law could face a fine of up to $1,000 in Dalton Municipal Court.
"The Public Works Committee and the Public Works Department put a lot of hard work into this," Goodlett said. "But the people I've spoken to still have concerns. We've got waivers, and we are asking people to call ahead. But somebody might set something out, and they'll be charged for us to pick it up. They might get fined. We paid over $270,000 for that new truck. I felt like we should give that more time and see if we can clean things up before we change the whole ordinance."
Dalton Public Works picks up rubbish twice each month from single-family houses, individually owned condominiums and townhouses and from multi-family dwellings with three or fewer units.
Public Works Director Andrew Parker said the council tasked the department with coming up with changes to improve the city's "curb appeal," citing the fact sometimes rubbish can remain on the curb for up to a week and a half. The city collects every other week, the north half of the city one week and the south half the next, and people will often put out items just after the department does its collection.
The biggest change may be that people will be asked call (706) 278-7077, use the city's SeeClickFix smartphone app or go to the city's website (cityofdalton-ga.gov/seeclickfix) to schedule a pickup.
Parker says that will give the department the ability to make sure the items the resident plans to put out are not items the city won't collect. It will also alert residents when pickup is scheduled for their area to make sure they don't put items out several days before the city can pick them up.
The city will continue to do its biweekly pickups, but it bought earlier this year a grapple truck that it can send out for special pickups as well. Parker says the department is looking at buying a second grapple truck. A grapple truck has a loader attached to its frame that is used to pick up bulky waste.
By law, the department is not supposed to pick up construction, remodeling or demolition debris. And even though that is stated in the city’s ordinance, Parker said people still put such debris out for collection. The department has been picking it up for free. However, under the new law, if someone places such items by the curb, the department will collect the items, in order not to leave them by the curb, but the resident will be charged $30 per cubic yard.
"There seems to be some confusion or lack of agreement about what is construction debris, so we tried to clarify that," he said.
The maximum the department will pick up at one time is 2 cubic yards. The department had tied to give people some idea of how that is by noting that was approximately the size of a standard refrigerator or a long-bed pickup truck bed. But council member Derek Waugh said that people may not know what counts as a standard refrigerator, so that language was dropped and the city now refers only to a long-bed pickup.
"I've told our guys not to split hairs, and if a load is a little bit above 2 cubic yards to go ahead and pick it up," Parker said.
But for loads well above 2 cubic yards, there will be a $30 per cubic yard charge for each cubic yard above the free pickup limit. Residents will be issued an invoice for the collection.
The law allows the Public Works Department to waive excess collections fees from time to time. Parker says fees will be waived in the fall and spring, when many people clean up their homes, and around the Christmas holiday season.
The law also allows the department to grant a financial hardship waiver to residents who aren't able to pay any excess collection fees. The resident must fill out an affidavit that they can't afford any excess collection fees. A person may receive only one waiver every 12 months.
Some homeowners and subdivisions have concrete pads where people place rubbish. Officials had considered removing those pads because some had become dumping areas. But the new law allows them to remain as long as they are well maintained and don't become dumping sites for prohibited items. Since the pads are in the public right of way, the department has the authority to remove them if they do become sites for illegal dumping.
People putting out leaves and yard trimmings won't have to call ahead for pickup. There will be a 4 cubic yard limit per pickup, about two long pickup truck beds and a $30 fee for each cubic yard above that.
Parker said as long as they are not mixed with branches and sticks, the department prefers that people pile their leaves near the curb, but not on streets or sidewalks, rather than bag them. He says the city's vacuum truck can collect the leaves from piles. Leaves piled and collected by the vacuum truck won't count against the 4-cubic yard pickup limit.
The city will collect trimmings created by commercial lawn services as long as it is from routine yard maintenance, such as mowing.
The new ordinance says that City of Dalton Public Works Department will not pick up:
• Discarded building materials
• Broken concrete
• Rock or debris resulting from repairs
Also, the city will not pick up remodeling or construction waste, including but not limited to:
• Plumbing fixtures
• Bath tubs
• Shower stalls
• Wood paneling
• Water/sewer piping
• Roofing material and debris
• Plastic pails or buckets five gallons or larger
• Landscape timbers
• Any type, carpet, ceramic tile and other floor coverings
The new law also spells out more explicitly what the city will pick up:
• Common outdoor objects such a swing sets, basketball goals, children's toys and patio furniture
• Dried paint
• Electronic waste
• Household furniture
• Mattresses/box springs
• White goods (standard appliances)