Newton will now charge for bulky item pickups


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By Adam Strunk

If you have junk to dump, get it done before the city starts charging you.

The city commission voted to change its bulky item pickup system and will charge $10 for a bulky item pickup starting Sept. 1.

The city changed the previously free system to keep up with growing expenses for the program, which cost the city around $70,000 annually.

There were complaints about people abusing the program and dumping things like tractor tires and whole trees. City staff said those tires cost the city hundreds of dollars at times to dispose of.

“I think this makes the system more fair and equitable across the community,” Commissioner Barth Hague said.

News graphic CityBulkyItems_Layout 1The vote passed 5-0. Changes in policy also mean that item pickups are limited to five items at a time. They cannot be tires larger than light truck tires. Items cannot include refuse created by contractors—think tree trimmers. Hazardous waste is not allowed. No car parts will be picked up. To receive service, users must have an active utility account with the city and be the entity paying that account. If an item costs the city an additional amount to be dumped at the landfill, then the fee can be assessed onto the utility account.

City staff looked at policies from other nearby cities for item pickup. Manhattan charges $10 per pickup, Overland Park $20-30 and private haulers in Wichita, $25. Other local governments do include bulky item pickups for free including Leavenworth, Lawrence, Columbia and Shawnee County.

In other news, the meeting was relatively short on large action.

Here’s a breakdown on what happened:

*Jason Reynolds gave an invocation to open the meeting.

*The city honored the Newton High School Drama and Theater group for receiving a Jester Award from the Wichita Music Theater for their performance of “All Shook Up”. The group was nominated for 10 awards. Ellie Bradley, Nancy Dorrell, Chelsie Penner, Tanner Debrado, Brett Knepper, Wyatt Dickinson, Michael Parker, Donna and Keith Woolery were present to be recognized.

*Commission approved going ahead with pavement improvements for the Fieldstone Development. The improvements will be paid for by special assessments on the properties.

*Tina Payne, director of the Harvey County United Way, spoke of the group’s work with childhood literacy. She said that much of what the group does goes on behind the scenes.

More than 650 Harvey County children receive one book once a month from the United Way’s Dolly Parton Imagination reading initiative.

*The commission approved a bid to Profencing for $23,000 for galvanized fencing for the upcoming Newton Dog Park.

*The Newton City Commission approved resolutions finalizing zoning changes for the Prairie Fire Development, zoning the site of the upcoming project to multi-family or R3 Residential.

*The city commission had to reject a bid on a box culvert for the drainage project at the Newton City/County Airport. The culvert came in $30,000 above estimate and the county received multiple bids. The estimated cost will be revised, and the city will look for more bids. The city commission also accepted a $228,000 bid from Mies Construction for work on a detention pond facility at the airport.

*City ambulance reimbursements are up $47,000.

*Barth Hague gave a presentation on the South Central Kansas Water Summit he attended.

“I don’t know how you’re going to make this exciting,” Mayor Glen Davis said.

“I figure since you’re speeding this meeting along I have, what, 30 minutes?” Hague responded.

“I was hoping more like 15 seconds,” Davis retorted.

Hague said the event was actually fairly interesting and told a story of a town in Oklahoma that had its lakes dry up in 2014 and how it had to significantly raise taxes.

Hague said take-aways from the meeting were that it’s important to have a water supply and a plan on how to secure that water supply in the future.

*Norm Oeding showed up to talk on behalf of the Harvey County Farmers Market. He said revenue and business has been good at the Farmers Market. He gave Commissioner Kathy Valentine a bag of samples since she showed up at the Farmers Market recently.

Davis asked if there were any tomatoes available and then if Oeding brought them for him.

Oeding said tomatoes were available at the market, but he did not bring any for the mayor but could give him a bag of old shoes.

*The commission held a 30-minute exec session to discuss attorney-client privilege and legal issues under negotiation.