AUGUSTA — City officials are looking to change current rules that allow residents to stuff up to 100 pounds of trash into a single bag.

“We’ve had some battles with people dragging heavy bags of rubbish out to the curb,” said Public Works Director Lesley Jones. “My people can’t pick it up and throw it in the truck. The bag won’t hold up. It falls apart, and then we’re left with a blob (of trash) on the curb.”

Jones asked city councilors last week to update the rules for curbside rubbish pickup to reduce the maximum weight limit to 40 pounds per bag, which she said is in line with what other communities with curbside trash pickup allow.

“It’s a safety issue,” Jones said.

She said when she called around to see what other municipalities with curbside pickup allow, officials elsewhere expressed disbelief that Augusta’s bag weight limit was so high.

City Manager William Bridgeo said the issue was brought up by management as a concern and not in response to employee or union official complaints. He said employees have not complained about the heavy bag limit.

But, Jones said, it has been a problem. Some residents have put out bags so heavy they could injure an employee trying to lift them up into the back of a rubbish truck or cause trash bags to fall apart before they can be wrestled up into the truck.

Bridgeo said public works employees won’t likely be bringing scales along with them when they pick up each bag of trash. Generally, he said, as long as workers can lift a bag with a reasonable amount of effort, it’s not likely to be a problem.

“This is where reasonableness comes in,” Bridgeo said when at-large Councilor Cecil Munson said some residents may ask how they’re supposed to know if a trash bag weighs more than 40 pounds, noting if a resident is having a hard time lifting a bag, a public works employee likely will too. “The people who throw the bags every day have a pretty good idea.”

At-large Councilor Dale McCormick said reducing the maximum allowable weight is a good suggestion, and the current 100-pound limit is a workers’ compensation claim waiting to happen.

She said the reduction in weight workers will have to lift could also open the job up to people who could lift 40 pounds but not 100.

The proposed rule change will likely go to city councilors at their next business meeting on Thursday.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj


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