September 17, 2014

Elyria
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Lorain mayor says Republic Services will give $3.50 credit on next bill because of sympathy strike

LORAIN — Homeowners will receive $3.50 credit on their next utility bill because of garbage collection interruptions last month.

Mayor Chase Ritenauer told City Council members at their Monday meeting that he “pushed and pushed” for a $5 credit from Republic Services, Lorain’s garbage collector, but believed $3.50 was fair. Ritenauer said Republic initially offered a $2.50 credit. He said Lorain got more garbage collected than communities like Amherst and Avon where Republic negotiates directly with homeowners rather than city officials.

The credit is because of an April sympathy strike by Republic workers. They struck in support of their counterparts at the Carbon Limestone Landfill in Lowellville.

Lowellville workers, represented by Teamsters Local 377, struck over alleged unfair labor practices and pension changes. The Lorain County strikes occurred April 1 and the week of April 14 to 20.

With trash piling up, Ritenauer and city workers borrowed Elyria garbage trucks and collected trash on April 20 and 21.

Ritenauer said more than 100 tons of trash were collected and he thanked workers for their efforts and Elyria for its help. He said Republic will reimburse the city for the approximately $20,000 in fuel and overtime costs.

Lorain, which abolished its city sanitation department in 1989, isn’t returning to the collection business. Ritenauer said Lorain doesn’t have enough money or workers — Lorain’s workforce decreased from about 600 workers to roughly 450 over the last decade — to do collection in-house like Elyria.

Republic has collected in Lorain since at least 2010. Monthly bills are $15 for most residents and $13.50 for people 65 or older.

Ritenauer said Lorain rates are lower than most surrounding communities, but with Republic’s contract expiring Dec. 31, Lorain soon will seek bids from other contractors. “There is competition in the region that can compete with Republic, depending upon how we structure our bid specifications,” he said.

In other business

  • Council unanimously reduced the amount of time trash can be left out before collection from 48 hours to 24 hours. The change is aimed at reducing illegal dumping and health hazards.
  • Council unanimously reduced the allowable height of grass from 10 inches to 6 inches before homeowners must cut it. Homeowners face $300 per hour costs if the city has to pay contractors to cut their grass. Fines are attached as liens against properties. Ritenauer said the change allows the city to be more proactive in alleviating the blight and health problems caused by tall grass. Lorain received more than 1,000 complaints about overgrown lawns last year, many at foreclosed properties.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.