The recent editorial on June 23 did not present the true facts regarding the City of Belleville and the work performed by its employees in the trash collection department. Namely, city employees do not just collect trash, recyclables and yard waste. They also collect unwanted trash such as mattresses, box springs, vanities, dressers and yard waste deposited by non-residents in alleys where residents live. This has been a problem for residents living from North 95th Street to North 98th Street. Signs were posted at each of those alley entrances by the city street department indicating “no dumping or littering,” and showing a $500 fine on the signs.
The recent increase of $2 for regular trash pick-up, which includes recyclables and yard waste, caps the monthly fee at $20 and adds $1 for seniors to make their monthly fee $15. The increase was necessary as there had not been an increase for seven years. Dumping fees have steadily increased each year. The cost have also increased to purchase new vehicles for collecting trash, recyclables and yard waste. Let’s compare the costs to the city of Mascoutah and the village of Swansea, as the “BND did not do” in their recent editorial, and what their standard fees and their services provided by a private carrier run monthly.
For the City of Mascoutah, the monthly fee is $14.23, which includes trash pick-up weekly and recyclables bi-weekly. The fees for seniors is $12.73 monthly or a reduction of $1.50 for the same services. However, “yard waste” pick-up is not a service provided. If you want the service provided it’s an extra $8.62 monthly charge that Waste Management, the city’s contract service provider, makes available using a 33-gallon “green container.” If any additional containers are needed for yard waste, it will cost an additional $1 per month. Waste Management bills residents quarterly. The city of Mascoutah provides its residents a drop-off site for yard waste collection, but must be dropped off by each resident three days per week. The hours are 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. However, residents must have access to a pick-up truck to drop off their yard waste or pay the extra monthly fee.
The Village of Swansea sells five stickers, one needed per 33-gallon container to be picked up weekly. Two stickers are needed if trash or recyclables exceed 33 gallons. If yard waste is desired to be picked-up, Republic Disposal Service will provide a blue 33-gallon container at an extra cost of $10.37 monthly. Republic will also bill residents quarterly. There is no senior discount provided by the Village of Swansea to its residents.
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Our street department has been maintaining the grounds at Mount Hope Cemetery in the west end, which is in receivership, state-owned with no money to maintain it. The street department cuts and trims the grass and hires college student’s to work part-time in the summer as contract labor. The street department will fill pot holes as necessary in the cemetery. Joe Hubbard and his staff from Mount Carmel Cemetery provide cemetery labor to open and close graves. Mount Hope Cemetery was in horrible shape before the city took it over. As a resident of the west end who has parents buried there, I thank god the City of Belleville took on this venture and does an extremely good job in maintaining it.
According to the 2010 Census, Belleville has a population of 44,478. Mascoutah has a population of 7,500 and Swansea has a population of 13,430. Belleville, which is twice the size of Mascoutah and Swansea combined, maintains a fee structure for trash pick-up with their own employees that is less than that of Mascoutah and Swansea.
The City of Belleville employees work tirelessly for their residents, exceeding and providing services which any community having a similar population would cherish. Our employee staff not only live in the City of Belleville, but care about the residents.
It saddens me to see an editorial published by the Belleville News-Democrat in which time was not taken to research and provide factual commentary before it was published.
Raffi Ovian is the Ward 4 alderman for the City of Belleville.