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Garbage pick-ups questioned

The Sunnyside City Council at its meeting this week agreed to continue to examine the type of garbage services offered to local residents.

Council members took up the garbage issue following a complaint Sunnyside resident John Nelson brought forth at an April meeting. Nelson told Council members that Yakima Waste Systems had left him several notes saying the weight of his garbage cans didn't meet compliance, and that is why they weren't being dumped.

Currently, Sunnyside residents are limited to having garbage cans no larger than 35 gallons in size. The cans can also not hold any more than 50 lbs. of garbage on collection day.

Nelson said the garbage in his cans only totaled 27 lbs. and he couldn't understand the method used by Yakima Waste Systems in determining the weight of a can. Nelson also recommended at the April meeting Council look into adopting a yard waste disposal program offered in Yakima through Yakima Waste Systems.

Assistant City Manager/City Attorney Mark Kunkler said there are state regulations about the maximum weight that can be disposed of in garbage cans. Kunkler said, though, a lot of the decisions about weight are left up to the employees disposing of the garbage. Kunkler also added that while Sunnyside's regulations don't allow more than 50 lbs. to be disposed of in a can, the state regulations cap that limit at 60 lbs.

Kunkler also addressed the yard waste disposal issue. The current code allows for Sunnyside residents to dispose of yard waste. The yard waste must be packaged separately from the regular garbage and can't exceed 40 lbs.

Kunkler also touched on the yard waste disposal program offered by Yakima Waste Systems. The program is optional to local residents, said Kunkler. The cost of the program is $4.80. Residents taking part in the program are given a 96-gallon can to dispose of their yard waste. The can is picked up by Yakima Waste Systems ever other week. Kunkler said there are no hidden costs to the yard waste program. He said residents simply pay the $4.80 fee each month. There is a fee if Yakima Waste Systems has to pick up a can in the winter months and bring it back out in the spring. Kunkler said residents do have the option of keeping the can year around, which calculates to about the same amount if a fee was imposed.

Nelson was on hand at this past Monday night's meeting.

"My biggest objection is the size of the can," said Nelson. "Fifty pounds is 50 pounds."

Kunkler said in talking with Yakima Waste officials, he did address the size of can issue. Kunkler said it was determined that if residents were given a larger can to use, it would provide them with temptation to fill it with more garbage.

Nelson found a sympathizer in Councilman Jim Restucci, who said the size of the can issue does need to be addressed.

Newly sworn in Sunnyside City Manager Robert Stockwell wanted to address the issue even further. He did agree that if people were given a bigger garbage can, they would fill it, exceeding weight limitations.

Sunnyside resident Don Outhet suggested the city have a site, similar to what is in Granger, where residents can dispose of their yard waste.

Councilman Bruce Ricks suggested the city talk more with Yakima Waste Systems to find out how its employees figure out the weight of a garbage can.

Sunnyside resident Bob Johnson wanted the city to look into the way Grandview handles its garbage disposal. Johnson said in Grandview, residents have one large garbage can, which is disposed of through an automated system on the garbage truck, using only one employee.

At the recommendation of Stockwell, Council agreed to have city staff further research the garbage issues brought forth by Nelson.

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