AUGUSTA — City officials are looking to help Augusta residents wondering what to do with that old mattress or broken stove.

A fall cleanup is being planned to help people free their basements, garages, sheds and yards of unwanted stuff.

City staff members have proposed residents be charged fees to dispose of some items, especially bulky ones, to help cover the costs of disposal. Details of the fall cleanup, however, have not yet been set.

“I think coming out of the pandemic, people have been looking at their stuff for a long time,” said Ward 4 Councilor Eric Lind, who proposed the city do a spring cleanup this year. “People are desiring to clean up and we want them to clean up.

“I want to see it be done regularly, annually or maybe twice a year, so we can get things out of yards and disposed of.”

City Manager William Bridgeo and Public Works Director Lesley Jones offered a fall cleanup as a preferred alternative to a spring event. Holding off until fall, they said, would allow more time to spread the word to residents about it. Delaying it until then also would give the city time to look into hiring outside contractors to help with the effort, given the city’s Public Works Department is short-staffed and has been having a hard time finding workers.

“If it’s really popular and a lot of stuff ends up out there, we may want to contract with an outside firm to do some of it,” Bridgeo told city councilors when they discussed the idea recently. “Right now, we’re short-staffed. We have two vacant rubbish thrower positions we’re trying to fill, and the labor market right now is tough for labor-type positions.

“My sense is there is a lot of pent-up demand and we’ll collect a lot of stuff, and it will be very popular.”

Bridgeo said the cleanup day could take place the first week in September.

Jones said she had budgeted $10,000 for a fall cleanup, which could be supplemented by charging fees for some items.

When the city has had such cleanups in the past, it has usually charged a fee, at least for bulky items, such as appliances, to help cover costs. Residents would buy stickers sold by the city — for about $25 — to put on the items requiring a fee.

The cleanup would be offered to buildings already served by city’s curbside trash collection.

Since the last cleanup day in 2013, Bridgeo said, Augusta has stopped holding them because they are expensive and had less impact than expected.

Jones said only 63 stickers were sold for the city’s trash collection day in 2013. That year, the city collected 11 tons of metal, wood and other materials, at a cost of $6,393, but generated only $2,055 in ticket revenue. The net cost to Augusta, therefore, was $4,338.

“We got very little participation,” Jones said. “That’s why we stopped doing it. It was costing us a lot of money.”

Jones said when the city began holding collection days, there were two per year and no fees. Since then, the city’s cost to dispose of or recycle items has escalated, in part due to major changes in the market for recyclables.

The city switched to a fee-based cleanup in the late 1990s. Jones said participation dropped off when the city began charging fees.

At-Large Councilor Marci Alexander warned the city should look to avoid picking up unwanted items, such as tires, electronic waste and hazardous materials. She said disposal of those items should be handled differently.

Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Judkins said Augusta officials should consider a “free day” at the Hatch Hill landfill, when residents could haul their stuff to the facility without having to pay the usual fees.


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