The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

March 15, 2006

Fewer participate in spring cleanup

JOHNSTOWN — Johnstown’s spring cleanup isn’t what it used to be.

Two years after instituting an extra fee for the service, city contractor Waste Management Inc. is picking up just half the amount of trash it formerly collected.

And far fewer residents are bothering to get involved in the annual rite of spring.

While at least one councilman says the additional expense deters those with limited income, others say the current setup is fair because only those who use the service pay for it.

“I’m satisfied that it’s working,” Mayor Don Zucco said. “And I don’t think it’s an exorbitant fee.”

Residents who want their extra trash collected during spring cleanup this year – scheduled for the first week in May – will have to fork over $38 for a sticker.

That is $3 more than last year’s fee, but the city said it is simply passing on some of the higher costs imposed by Waste Management.

“They’re claiming an increase in costs for gas and also for their employees,” Acting City Manager Curt Davis said.

“We’re actually eating 25 cents per sticker, and we’re covering the handling costs.”

But while cleanup costs have risen, participation has dropped. Waste Management collected 116 tons of trash last year, down from more than 200 tons in years past.

An estimated 530 residents bought stickers in 2004. The city sold only 390 in 2005.

Those statistics may serve as an example of why officials imposed an additional fee in the first place: Many claimed that people from outside the city were depositing extra trash in Johnstown during cleanup days.

“Everybody was just bringing (garbage) in, stacking things up,” Davis said.

Mandating sticker purchases and imposing a tonnage limit, officials reason, curb such dumping.

Councilman Anthony “Red” Pinizzotto, though, continues to favor spreading spring-cleanup costs among all city residents.

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