The number of complaints to the Clark County Solid Waste District dipped in 2014, but officials say the city’s illegal dumping issue continues to be a significant problem.
The waste district’s 32-TRASH hotline averaged nearly 450 reports of illegal dump sites each year from 2010 to 2014, according to data collected from the Clark County Environmental Enforcement annual reports. More than half of those calls were to report illegal dumping within the city limits of Springfield. There were 424 calls in 2013, which dipped to 396 in 2014.
“It is an ongoing issue and one of the most common issues we hear from neighborhood groups that are trying to clean up the image of their neighborhoods,” said Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland.
City commissioners and the waste district have discussed turning to a single hauler to contract trash services in Springfield, said Steve Schlather, coordinator at the waste district.
If the city contracted with a single waste hauler for every city residence, Schlather said it could reduce the number of illegal dumps. In effect, residents then couldn’t get around avoiding a trash collection fee, so they would be less inclined to dump illegally since they are already paying for trash pick-up.
New Carlisle and Tremont City both have a contracted, single hauler to pick up trash. Residents are sent a bill from the city each month, just like with their city water bill, Schlather said.
Springfield is one of the largest cities in the state that doesn’t have a contracted hauler or provide municipal trash services, he added.
“I personally think it would help and I would favor it,” Copeland said. But he added that it is not proven a single trash collector in the city would be the best solution for the trash issue.
Contracting with a single trash hauler would require commissioners to put the decision in the hands of voters to change the current city charter, Copeland said.
The change could also have a negative affect on local, smaller haulers who might not be chosen as the city provider, he added.
“It is an issue that has been discussed over and over for a number of years,” Copeland said.
The current problem of illegal dumps currently weighs on the backs of city and county taxpayers, Schlather said, “because we’re paying the salaries of the deputies that have to supervise the inmate crews who clean up those dump sites.”
Two Clark County Sheriff’s Office deputies supervise inmates in the PRIDE program, who in 2014 cleared more than 78 tons of trash from illegal dump sites and other locations across the city and county.
September Phillips, of Springfield, was cited by environmental enforcement deputies for not clearing away trash in her yard — trash she said was put there by illegal dumpers.
“I’m not trash and I don’t live like pigs,” Phillips said. “And for people to illegally dump in somebody’s yard and to think that it’s okay for them to get away with, it is not right.”