The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

September 25, 2013

Revamped trash law unearthed by Conneaut City Council

Star Beacon

CONNEAUT — After three months on the shelf, Conneaut’s City Council is ready to revisit new trash-hauling laws for the city.

At Monday’s regular meeting, a majority of council approved a motion by Councilman-at-large Neil LaRusch to take the measure from the table where it had sat since late June. Garbage disposal problems continue to mount while the legislation languished, LaRusch said.

“I think we need to talk about it,” he said. “People are sick about (the town’s trash situation), and I’m sick of it, too.”

Ward 1 Councilman Doug Hedrick, who tabled the measure, agreed it was time to revisit the matter.

“I still don’t know the answer,” he said. “I’ve talked to people and I’m open to discussion.”

The measure was pulled from the table by a 6-1 vote, with Councilman-at-large John Roach saying no. Roach has been critical of the measure in the past. Hedrick moved the ordinance to a third reading, meaning it could surface for a vote at council’s next regular meeting in mid-October.

Council’s first order of business may be to amend the ordinance to include recent recommendations made by City Manager Tim Eggleston. He has proposed eliminating a provision that would authorize him to seek proposals for a one-hauler system for residential collections, an idea roundly criticized by local trash collectors and their customers. Council already has that authority, so it needn’t be included in any legislation, Eggleston has said.

The measure would still set specific times and days for trash collection, a prime purpose of the proposed law. City officials say they are tired of seeing garbage sitting on curbs every day of the week. Haulers would also be obliged to offer curbside recycling and also make collections in vehicles designed for trash hauling, not pickup trucks with plywood walls.

Ward 2 Councilman Phil Garcia questioned whether the city needed additional laws to deal with trash problems. Enforcement of existing laws may be a better solution, he said.

“Why aren’t we citing these people?” Garcia said. “I feel we’re not enforcing what we have now. People are running roughshod over us. There are blatant violations. Why are we not citing the owners?”

In other business, council moved to a second reading an ordinance that would streamline the process to cite people for violations of the city’s junk and unlicensed vehicle ordinance. The proposed measure would eliminate the need for repeated inspections and notifications by a city official, giving authority to a police officer instead.

“It was a really complicated procedure,” said Ward 4 Councilman Thomas Kozesky. “(The proposed replacement) cuts out a lot of that stuff.”

The legislation would also downgrade a first offense to a minor misdemeanor, toughening the penalty for the second infraction. The law would also apply to boats, campers and other things that sit on wheels, Kozesky said.

Elsewhere,  council:

• Re-appointed Judy Williams to a four-year term to the Conneaut Board of Tourism

• Officially added two properties — 524 Lakeview Ave., and 255 Clay St. — to the city’s building demolition list

• Amended the compensation that can be paid newly-appointed Law Director Carly Prather. Eggleston is authorized to pay her no more than $52,000 annually for the position, which became a full-time job with Prather’s appointment. The county will pay $5,000 of Prather’s salary. Pay for Prather’s former job, assistant law director, was shrunk from $33,826 to $28,826. That job will not be filled, officials have said.