PIQUA — The trash ordinance that has come before the Piqua City Commission numerous times received approval Tuesday night by a majority vote of 3 to 2. Commissioners John Martin and Bill Vogt voted against the legislation.
The commission held their third reading of the most recent version of this ordinance before voting on it. Since it has been approved, the Health and Sanitation Department will be providing 96-gallon trash carts to customers, or smaller carts if requested, later this year. A new rate structure is also included in the ordinance, which will raise monthly rates by $1 for residential customers. Other minor changes are included in the updated ordinance, including slight changes to rates for commercial customers.
Prior to voting on the new ordinance, Martin questioned why the department was not proposing a rate increase for only two years rather than for four years. Martin also suggested that the department was saving enough money with its in-house recycling program that they might not need the increases for all four years.
Finance Director Cynthia Holtzapple said that they needed to be able to show lenders that the department would still make enough money to pay the debt service along with future capital costs and other expenses to receive financing for the department’s future new building.
Mayor Kazy Hinds spoke in favor of the new building, which would provide facilities for the employees to get clean after picking up the city’s trash. “The guys that pick up our trash deserve a shower before they go home,” she said.
Martin defended his positions and his questioning, saying, “I’ve never had a problem with our trash department,” but added that it was the commission’s responsibility to be fiscally responsible. Martin said that he agreed with Hinds, but, “I’m just not sure it takes a $2.4 million building to do that.”
City Manager Gary Huff said that amount was an estimate and that they hoped the future bids for the building would come in below that amount.
Earlier in the meeting, Martin also criticized the Health and Sanitation Department’s enforcement of the old trash ordinance in regard to commercial customers. Martin again referenced an unnamed business in the city and suggested that they were not paying enough for the amount of trash that they generate.
Huff and Hinds each indicated that the new ordinance would rectify the situation.
“If we go to the containers, that will be more exact,” Health and Sanitation Director Amy Welker said. Welker said that the business would be paying for the number of containers they are using.
With the old ordinance, Welker said that the business was being charged for the average amount of trash that they put out rather than what they put out at their peak times. Martin asked why the business was not being charged by how much trash they put out per week.
“We don’t keep track of every week, of every business, of every can … it would be very cumbersome to do that,” Welker said.
Later, Commissioner Kris Lee asked what sizes will be available for residents if they do not want the 96-gallon container. Huff said that there will be containers available in 32- and 64-gallon sizes.
Resident Betty Wells spoke during public comment, asking, “Are people going to be required to use this new trash bucket?”
The new ordinance requires that people put their trash bags inside a container, whether it is provided by the city or is a city-approved container not exceeding 32 gallons.
“We have a lot of people setting bags out and animals getting in,” Huff said. He added that the city has also had issues with people coming from out of town and dumping their trash in front of people’s residences for the city to pick up.
“The containers control that,” Huff said. “It helps clean up the community and prevent you from paying for other people’s trash.”
Wells also criticized the rate increases. “Some people can’t afford that extra $1,” she said.
Wells also asked about yard waste. Welker said that yard waste can be loose in a container or in a biodegradable paper bag.
Another resident came forward with concerns about there being no weight limit on the trash containers to protect city staff. Huff said that the trash trucks will have tippers that will lift the containers to collect the trash, which will be able to accommodate up to 450 pounds of trash within the containers.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Bill Jaqua of Piqua questioned the economic development plan of the city, citing residents’ past concerns with “stagnant population growth” and declining household income.
“We have reached the highest population level in the history of the city,” Huff said.
Economic Development Director Justin Sommer said that wages within the city have increased 30 percent, but added that does not immediately translate to household incomes, as approximately 73 percent of the people who live in Piqua work outside of the city, and vice versa. Sommer added that number of jobs increased by 2.8 percent within the city.
“Do we need to improve? Absolutely,” Huff said. “I think we’re starting to make some positive impact in the community.”
Reach Sam Wildow at firstname.lastname@example.org or (937) 451-3336