March 04, 2009


City residents say garbage becoming problem

Paper cups, pizza boxes spill into streets, neighborhoods on days that trash is picked up

GarbageJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Matt Bevins of Cassella’s Waste Systems picks up recyclable materials Wednesday on Cedar Street in Cortland. John Gale, the general manager for Cassella’s Waste Systems, attended Tuesday’s Common Council meeting to respond to complaints that garbage and recyclables are littering city streets and neighborhoods.

Staff Reporter

Residents and aldermen expressed concerns about paper cups and pizza boxes left on the ground and trash not being picked up from houses at the Common Council’s meeting Tuesday night.
John Gale, the general manager for Cassella’s Waste Systems, said he would recommend for residents with more than 25 gallons of recyclables each week to place items in two blue bins to help prevent milk containers and cardboard from overflowing onto sidewalks and streets.
Any greasy pizza boxes should also be placed in a blue bag, and if a driver determines that the box is too dirty to be recycled, he leaves the box for the garbage truck to pick up, Gale said.
“I would recommend that all dirty pizza boxes are placed in blue bags,” Gale said. “That would eliminate the decision made at the curb.”
The city asked Gale to attend the meeting after receiving complaints about residents’ garbage and recycling not being picked up from curbs across the city.
During the public comments, Ann Doyle, who lives on Lincoln Avenue, said she did not like the number of empty beer cartons and paper cups left on the street after garbage trucks travel through the city.
“I am not satisfied with the job being done,” Doyle added.
Alderman Tom Michales (R-8th Ward) said residents had also complained about workers talking on cell phones while collecting trash and tossing blue bins back on the curb, which often causes damage to the container.
Alderman Ken Dye (D-3rd Ward) also said his neighbor’s blue bin had been tossed by workers in the driveway, and the neighbor had accidentally driven over the bin.
“The (recycling) driver was also talking on his cell phone the whole time,” Dye added.
Gale said he would look into getting a replacement bin for the neighbor and would speak with his workers about cell phone usage.
About 3,600 tons of garbage is hauled from Cortland each year, said Chris Bistocchi, the head of the city Department of Public Works.
Bistocchi also said the trash is collected from Main Street receptacles on Mondays and Fridays, and some trash was not getting placed in the bag and was getting stuck in the metal receptacle.
“It’s not in Cassella’s contract to haul away loose trash,” Bistocchi said, noting he had not been able to find square cans to place in the square metal receptacles.
Bistocchi added a different company would begin making the city’s blue bags, and residents will be able to purchase stronger bags beginning sometime in June or July.
Michales also asked how residents could contact the management at Cassella’s if trash is not collected.
Gale gave business cards to the council and said residents should contact aldermen if they experience any problems.
Based in Rutland, Vt., with a regional office in Ithaca, Cassella Waste Systems has handled the city’s garbage and recycling pickup for about three years.
The city raises funds for garbage and recycling collection services by selling blue bags that cost $2.25 for a medium-sized bag and $3 for a larger bag.
For 2009, the city will pay $498,700 for Cassella’s services, with the company’s payment increasing $39,100 from last year.
The cost of the company’s services also increased by $12,400 from 2007 to 2008, according to the city’s budget.
Gale said the company’s contract with the city stipulates that fees will be raised by 3 percent each year to cover fluctuating operation costs, such as insurance, landfill tipping fees, wages and the price of gasoline.
The hikes in the cost of garbage collection caused the city to raise the price of both medium and large blue bags by 50 cents, starting Jan. 1.


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