Council discusses sidewalks and trash

GREENVILLE – A couple of familiar topics have resurfaced and Greenville City Council and the city’s administration are inching forward to find an answer. Council met in regular session on Tuesday evening and once again discussed sidewalks and trash pick-up.

Replacing broken sidewalks and sidewalks in disrepair has been an issue with the current administration for nearly three years. The pandemic sidelined the discussion for a couple of years, but the city is ready to move forward.

Ryan Delk, safety/service director, shared with council that the city has the “seed” money to get this started thanks to nearly $1.4 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds received from the government in response to the pandemic. The city continues to debate how the different phases of the project should take place. Delk stressed the sidewalk project was only to repair sidewalks and not to install new sidewalks.

The funds will be used to repair the sidewalks and then residents will be assessed the cost on their taxes. Once funds are received from those assessments, the city would then be able to start a new phase. Delks said the administration is currently working on a plan that would include all of the phases that will be needed.

Delk brought the issue to council because he would need their blessing to have the engineering completed in order to get a cost. Unfortunately, high inflation will mean the estimated cost received approximately two years ago is useless. He believes the estimated cost in late 2019 and early 2020 has probably doubled.

The city is also working on a plan to help lower income individuals or properties or longer sidewalks, such as corner lots, be able to afford the cost. He suggested the city could offer rebates if a person qualifies for their program.

Council did not vote on the issue of allowing engineering to go forward but did not vocally object.

Council also continued its efforts to secure a trash contract. Although the topic was already planned for discussion, it became more evident that this issue is one that will not go away when a resident spoke during the public hearing portion of the program. He said there were two weeks when he had to call Rumpke to pick up trash. According to the contract with the city, the trash service is required to pick it up that day if a phone call is received before a specific time. After several phone calls, the resident finally had the trash picked up on the normal day the following week. He was issued a credit from Rumpke for those weeks.

Delk will work on the requirements for the bid with an ala carte style menu of items. The city is hoping they will be able to receive bids from other trash removal companies. In the past, the sticking point for the other companies has been the requirement that residents be able to use the trash bags with the city logo. For many residents, this is much cheaper than being forced to use the brown totes. Another option the city is looking at is the size of the recycling bins. There are several size options. The current red recycling bins are 18 gallons, but Rumpke would like to go to 35 or 65 gallon bins.

If the city doesn’t find a suitable bidder, some council members have suggested the city start its own service. If that happens, the waste removal bill would be put on the residents’ water bill.

Council was unable to approve legislation at the meeting due to missing two members. One of the items on the agenda the police chief hopes will be approved at a special meeting on Thursday, Aug. 4, at noon, is a strength ordinance that will increase the number of officers. Greenville City Schools has requested a third Student Resource Officer for the school district. The officer would be paid by the school district during the school year.