Fort Dodge’s annual spring cleanup days cost $107,000

The annual citywide collection of large refuse items conducted over four days last spring cost the local government about $107,000, the Fort Dodge City Council learned Monday.

City Manager David Fierke and Public Works Director Brett Daniel briefed the council on the spring cleanup and other aspects of solid waste collection Monday.

The spring cleanup enables city residents to get rid of all kinds of things that couldn’t ordinarily be disposed of during the regular weekly garbage collection. The collection is traditionally held on the last two Wednesdays of April and the first two Wednesdays of May.

Daniel said the cleanup doesn’t impact personnel expenses, because the city workers would be paid anyway for those days. But he said equipment expenses do go up during the cleanup days because so many trucks and machines are needed to get the job done.

Fierke said that the cleanup effort takes productive time away from other things the public works employees could be doing. For example, he said no potholes get fixed on the days when the cleanup is underway.

He and Daniel presented some proposed changes to cleanup collection procedures for the council to consider.

Switching the collection from Wednesdays to Mondays is perhaps the biggest possible change.

That switch was proposed to cut down on the amount of time piles of junk are along the curbs awaiting pickup. Fierke said it seems like many residents haul stuff out to the curb on the Sunday before their designated cleanup day collection. Moving to a Monday collection would mean that those piles are only out for one night.

Focusing more on what Fierke and Daniel called “bulk pickup” is another proposed change. Under that proposal, only things like furniture that don’t fit in the garbage containers would be picked up. In a related move, no bags of garbage, recycling materials or loose items of any type would be picked up.

The council took no action on any of those changes.

The council did, however, approve the first reading of a revised sanitation ordinance. Because the ordinance hadn’t been updated recently, it doesn’t reflect the fact that residents get 95-gallon trash and recycling containers that are picked up by trucks with mechanical arms. What’s actually in the ordinance right now would still allow residents to put out four bags of trash every week.

The revised ordinance must be approved two more times to become law.