Mansfield municipal building

MANSFIELD -- Five trash haulers who operate in Mansfield told City Council on Tuesday they oppose creating five garbage-hauling zones that would designate one day per week for collection in any one zone.

The haulers cited traffic/safety concerns, additional operating costs and changes for customers as their primary reasons for opposing the proposed change to the city's trash removal laws.

Haulers opposing the change were Garbage Guys Who Care, Rick Haynes Rubbish, Wright's Refuse Hauling, Trash Masters and Rumpke Waste & Recycling.

The issue was discussed during a 30-minute public utilities committee meeting and then again briefly during council's caucus session. It's scheduled for three readings during council meetings and a vote on the proposal would not come until the middle of April.

"I do feel we have a lot to talk about," 3rd Ward Council member Jon Van Harlingen said, saying he shared haulers' concerns about multiple trucks on some of the city's narrower streets at the same time.

"One of my major concerns is since this is being authored by one of my fellow council members, what is the (city) administration's take on this? Where do they stand? Do they support it?

"If it's passed, how will it be enforced ... police department? Codes and permits?" Van Harlingen asked, saying he was offering "food for thought" for future discussions.

Currently, the city has 15 registered private trash hauling companies, which results in garbage being picked up multiple days on the same street. It also leads to a lack of enforcement because it's difficult to tell when a resident to scheduled to have their trash picked up.

Council President David Falquette told council the city has had trash issues for many years and that it was consistently brought up by residents during community meetings conducted by Richland Source before the 2019 election.

He said the proposal had two goals. One, he said, it allow better enforcement of trash laws by the city's codes and permits department by allowing workers to know when trash collection day on a particular street.

Secondly, Falquette said, it would mean trash would only be set out for collection in a neighborhood one day each week.

"We are trying to get the city to look neater and cleaner," Falquette said. "It would be clear (who is following the law). It would be six days a week of silence. Six days a week there would be no trash trucks running up and down the (same) street."

Richland Source did a four-part series of stories on the city's trash and dumping issues in 2020, looking at the problem from a variety of standpoints, including what other similar cities have done.

The series was launched as part of the Citizens Agenda developed by Richland Source during meetings with voters before the November 2019 mayor election.

After numerous listening sessions, here is what Mansfield residents said was important to them.

All of the haulers who attended the Zoom meeting on Tuesday spoke against the proposal, including Sarah Mathews, representing Rumpke.

"I do recall the Richland Source articles that came out last year that talked about (trash and illegal dumping) concerns. We did reach out to the Solid Waste District. We reached out to Mayor (Tim) Theaker regarding opportunities for enforcement that wouldn't require changing ordinances.

"We had a lot of great conversation. We are 100 percent behind following the (current) city guidelines, but we are opposed to doing pickup zones by ordinance," she said, adding the COVID-19 pandemic slowed down conversations on the topic.

Like other haulers, Mathews said she was concerned about multiple trucks operating on the same street at the same time, especially during winter.

Rachel Haynes, representing Rick Haynes Rubbish, asked at what point do residents become responsible for following city trash laws found in Section 745 of the city's codified ordinances.

"What would be implemented here in the long run might be a disaster," Haynes said. "We operate in some areas outside of the city limits. We have been family owned and operated for more than 60 years. We would be required to change our whole itinerary just to go with the flow of what the city wants to implement."

Bill Wright of Wright's Refuse Hauling said on Fridays that his company works nine to 10 hours a day in the Bellville/Butler area.

"Where would I squeeze in Mansfield on a Friday?" he asked. "We have been in business in Mansfield for 60 years and we have established our routes to be convenient and economical. A lot of my customers will be upset if you change their pickup days."

Steve Cobb, owner of Garbage Guys Who Care, suggested council's priorities are wrong to focus on trash issues when issues of systemic racism in the community still exist.

Cobb said he employs 14 people, nine of whom are Black. He also said he employs eight convicted felons and pays an average salary of $18.75 per hour.

"My experiences have given me a revealing look at our world through the eyes of people who don't look like me," Cobb said, adding anyone who doesn't see systemic racism as a problem in Mansfield is "either blind or not looking."

At-large Council member Stephanie Zader said she heard the haulers offer to help find solutions.

"We as council are open to feedback (on the proposal)," she said. "Why don't we take ideas from the haulers on how to improve the situation and maybe have another discussion on that?"

Also on Tuesday, City Council:

-- unanimously approved a resolution urging the state to make COVID-19 vaccines available to law enforcement officers. Gov. Mike DeWine announced on Monday that officers could begin getting the vaccines on Thursday, which would make the resolution moot.

However, retired Mansfield police Sgt. Mike Bammann, president of the FOP William J. Taylor Lodge 32, sent council a letter asking they still pass the resolution.

"Even though the Governor announced on March 1 that law enforcement will be included in Phase 1C and can begin receiving the vaccine on March 4, we are still waiting to see if this actually takes place," Bammann wrote.

"The governor told law enforcement they would be included in the vaccine schedule with all other first responders, but for reasons unknown, that did not take place until yesterday's announcement. I would ask City Council to continue to press the governor and the Ohio Department of Health until promises are kept and law enforcement finally begins receiving the vaccine they have been denied and are so deserving of receiving," Bammann wrote.

-- voted unanimously to authorize the city engineer's office to establish retainage provisions in contracts for the construction of public improvements. Retainage is a portion of the agreed upon contract price withheld until the work is substantially complete to assure that contractor or subcontractor will satisfy its obligations and complete a construction project.

-- voted unanimously to update personnel positions, pay grades and salaries for certain City of Mansfield employees for the 2021 payroll year.

-- discussed during caucus a proposal to advance $84,000 from the city's general fund to the community development fund to provide temporary resources for the West End Target Area. Repayment of the advance will be budgeted in the community development department's 2022 appropriations, unless repaid sooner. On Dec. 15, council approved a resolution supporting the proposed West End Neighborhood Improvement plan, a decision that allows the city to enter into an engineering contract for consulting services related to the plan.

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City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when the page was blank?"