Salem council addresses trash pickup complaints
SALEM — In the future, trash haulers in Salem could be restricted to daylight pickup hours and required to tell customers about pickup date changes to prevent trash being on curbs for weeks on end.
At least that’s what members of city council’s Rules and Ordinances Committee discussed Tuesday night as a means to address recent trash complaints.
No action was taken, with Councilwoman Cyndi Baronzzi Dickey, who chairs the committee, suggesting further research and talking to trash haulers and other communities about their rules.
“We don’t want to just make rules we can’t enforce,” Dickey said.
She started off the conversation acknowledging that council decided against a single trash hauler program last year, but they could still review the ordinances in place. She said the non-collection of trash has been a big issue, with Aarrow Disposal relaying that COVID-19 issues affected collections. Some residents went weeks without their trash being picked up, littering up the curb lawns across the city.
She said she noticed the trash containers have been cleaned up since and she’s hoping the company’s issues are over.
Dickey said some things need addressed regarding trash hauling, such as hours of pickup and communicating to customers about non-pickup or changes in pickup dates. She suggested restricting pickup hours to 7 a.m. through 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, which could reduce noise at night.
Councilman Jake Gano, also on the committee, said he’s all for it and asked about ordinances pertaining to noise possibly applying.
Dickey said council talked about restricting hours before, but trash haulers argued that not collecting during the day was a safety issue for them, with night pickups preferable due to less traffic. She said they can’t argue that anymore since they’re all picking up during the day now.
“I don’t want to make it so restrictive that we’re putting people out,” Gano said.
Councilman Dennis Plegge said his trash hauler tries to come a little earlier than 7 a.m. in his neighborhood due to traffic considerations, like at 6 a.m. Gano said he would be all right with going earlier and asked if anyone had talked to the trash haulers.
Dickey said they knew the meeting was being held, but also added a decision didn’t have to be made immediately, that they could research how this would affect trash haulers.
Another big complaint had to do with the trash being out for extended periods of time, with Dickey suggesting trash haulers be required to give notice to customers if trash won’t be picked up, telling them when to put the trash out if there’s going to be a delay. City ordinance restricts trash containers to be out no longer than 24 hours at a time.
Council President Tom Baker asked if the hours could be seasonal, or with later hours such as 6 or 7 p.m. Dickey said 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. would not be unreasonable. Telling customers if trash isn’t going to be picked up on schedule also isn’t unreasonable.
Dickey also said there have been complaints about leaking oil on the streets and trucks not in good repair, suggesting maybe inspections could be required for trucks as part of the registration process. All trash haulers operating in the city are required to register with the city.
Councilman Sal Salvino said Aarrow Disposal has been flagrant on violating the 24-hour rule and asked if the city could put them on notice for that. However, city Law Director Brooke Zellers explained that the 24-hour rule pertains to the resident not the hauler and Aarrow would have no accountability.
Dickey commented that it’s up to the customer whether to change trash haulers if trash isn’t getting picked up and she’s noticed it’s happening. She called it natural consequences.
Gano said it’s the free market. People do have a choice, he said.
Baker asked if a company could be sent a notice about their registration not being renewed if the city gets too many complaints. Zellers liked the idea of something progressive.
Salvino said there has to be a point where accountability comes into play.