AUGUSTA — Municipal officials in Augusta say they are concerned that an upcoming fall cleanup could become overwhelming due to pent-up demand.

The weeklong cleanup would allow residents to get rid of unwanted bulky items, brush and metal too big to put at the curb for regular trash collection.

City officials have at least one private hauler on standby to help pick up the refuse if needed. Like other municipalities, the city has struggled to find enough workers for its Public Works Department.

City Manager William Bridgeo said officials are concerned that “if this is very popular, it’s going to overwhelm the resources we have,” he told city councilors at their meeting on Thursday. “Unfortunately, once a bunch of stuff ends up on the curb, it’s not going back into the garage. At some point it’s going to need to be picked up.”

The fall cleanup is planned to take place from Monday, Sept. 20, to Monday, Sept. 27.

Residents will need to call Public Works, at 626-2435, to have their items picked up. The service is only available to residents presently served by the city’s curbside trash collection. No business waste will be picked up.

The first “unit” is free for each household, while additional ones will incur a fee of $15 per unit. The city’s definition of units varies, based upon what types of materials are being collected. Public Works, at the phone number above, has more information.

Items that the city declines to pick up include televisions and computer monitors; fluorescent light bulbs and other items containing mercury; tires and vehicle batteries; objects that are too heavy to reasonably handle; rechargeable batteries (which can be recycled at Hatch Hill); and fuel tanks or other containers holding liquids, asbestos or other special wastes.

Residents who want to dispose of more than one unit will need to pay the $15 fee for each additional one before the collection days. Public Works Director Lesley Jones said they may bring a check or cash to Public Works to settle the charge, or mail their check to Public Works, 55 North St, Augusta, ME 04330. The department is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

At the request of councilors, the city will look into accepting online payments through the city’s website. Bridgeo said he hoped that option will be available by the time of this year’s collection.

Jones confirmed that it’s hard to know how many residents will use the service. The city last offered the special trash pickup in 2013, and then stopped because it was too expensive for the limited response the initiative received.

But with the coronavirus pandemic prompting many people to take on home improvement projects, officials are making contingency plans, including lining up not just every worker in the Public Works department, but also having Parks and Recreation employees on standby. At least one private hauler, Riverside Disposal, will be on call as the project gets underway, Jones said.

“We have 7,000 residents we serve,” Jones said. “So if everybody puts out one unit, that’s 7,000 stops we have to do, in six days.”

On Sept. 20, city workers will pick up metal and brush on the east side of the Kennebec River, followed by the same pickup on the west side of the river on Sept. 27. From Sept. 21 through 24, bulky waste will be collected on residents’ regular trash pickup days.

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