Newton cites 333 properties for junk at the curb in first month of sticker program

Chad Frey
The Kansan

Since starting a new sticker program Aug. 2 for items left by the curb, city staff tagged 333 properties with items that needed to removed — either through the bulky item pickup program or by residents. 

A new tag system for items left in the curb resulted in 333 citations for the month of August, and 110 calls for bulky item pickup.

 “I think that we are definitely seeing things being cleaned up along the street, which was our goal," said Suzanne Loomis, director of public works for the city. "And the number of tagged items is already decreasing because the initial cleanup was so successful.”

Here’s how it  works: If there are old furniture or other junk items sitting at the curb, city crews will place a notice on the item stating that residents 48 hours to either remove it or request a bulky-item pickup.

Of the 333 tags issues, 110 resulted in a resident calling the city to reserve a bulky item pickup. That service costs $10, billed to the resident's city utility bill. There were 13 residents who called the city to say they would remove the tagged items themselves, and 133 removed items before city crews arrived to remove items. During the month, 47 items were removed by the city without a bulky item pickup reservation, leading to a $20 charge to the residence account. There were 47 residences sent to the environmental control office because their accounts were inactive. 

The city is starting a sticker notification program for items left at the curb.

 It has always been a violation of City Code to leave old furniture or junk at the curb.

According to Erin McDaniel, city public information officer,  in the past someone had to submit a complaint to the City’s Environmental Control Officer, who then had to go out to verify the violation and send a letter to the property owner, who then had 10 days to clean it up. The process often resulted in junk sitting at the curb for weeks at a time. This new program will speed up the cleanup process.

The city first launched a bulky item pickup service in 2003, choosing to offer a free service in 2008. As cost to provide the service rose — an estimated $71,000 in 2015 —  the city commission began charging a fee in 2016. 

The result of the fee was fewer people calling to have things picked up — dropping from 8,059 pickups in 2015 when it was free to 2,131 pickups in 2016.

The bulky item pickup is offered in addition to free landfill coupons, which allow residents to haul bulky items to the county transfer station themselves for free. Residential customers can receive up to two coupons per year. Coupons can be obtained at the water billing office at City Hall.

For more information, contact the Sanitation Division at 284-6070.