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Our View: Cleanup change may be needed

It's a decision that's bound to cause a ripple in Mitchell. The City Council sometime in the near future will vote on the future of spring cleanup week, which started off as a sort of goodwill gesture and has grown so much that it has become a bu...

It's a decision that's bound to cause a ripple in Mitchell.

The City Council sometime in the near future will vote on the future of spring cleanup week, which started off as a sort of goodwill gesture and has grown so much that it has become a burden to the city.

This year, the program cost the city $55,000. The average workday per Street and Sanitation Department employee during the week was 10 to 14 hours. The total amount of junk hauled was 445 tons.

That's right -- 445 tons, much of which probably still is being sifted through, sorted and properly discarded. Over the last few years, an average of 300 tons was collected. This year was a 48 percent increase.

Ron Olson, Street and Sanitation Department superintendent, said that with the manpower and equipment available, it's become exceedingly difficult to complete all the work during spring cleanup week. Something has to change, he said.

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It's tough to disagree.

Spring cleanup week was set aside to give residents a chance to throw out oversized junk that normally wouldn't qualify for curbside pickup. What it's become is everybody's chance to toss out a lifetime's worth of accumulation, if they so choose. It seems many do.

In short, we've taken advantage of spring cleanup week and now may have to face the consequences. If this year's cleanup haul rose 48 percent, what might it be next year? Or in five years?

And what kind of strain can it do to city resources? With the entire Street and Sanitation Department immersed in spring cleanup week, it's likely that other routine tasks are being put on the backburner. That means that when workers finally get done with spring cleanup, they have to struggle to catch up on their other work.

In a perfect world, no changes would be needed.

We, as residents, would spend the year keeping up on our trash -- not hoarding it, knowing that the city will take care of it for us in April. And we wouldn't take advantage of the intent of spring cleanup week and would limit our junk that week to just oversized items.

What's the best solution?

First, the city could simply leave the system the way it is. But that likely would require the city having to pay to bring in more help.

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Second, divide the city into sections and only clean up one section each year. Of course, this could invite widespread transferring of junk from one person's house to another.

Third, accept only true oversized items.

We feel change is coming and if it does, we prefer the third option.

What a great program. It's too bad it's come to this.

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