The Issue: Curbside Leaf Recycling Program

Background Information & Outcome

The legislation: Ordinance No. 108-02. An ordinance authorizing the Mayor of the City of North Canton, through the Board of Control, to enter into a professional service contract for curbside leaf recycling for the City of North Canton, at a cost not to exceed $50,000 and declaring the same to be an emergency.

The legislation originated as a request from Administration Director David J. Held  to the Chairman of the Water, Sewer and Rubbish Committee in a letter dated October 3, 2002. It was discussed by the Water, Sewer and Rubbish Committee and council and referred out of committee for legislation on October 7, 2002.

Before council voted on the proposed leaf recycling program, a fax dated October 12, 2002, was sent to council office from a resident describing the problems the proposed leaf recycling program would impose on them.

I had concerns about this program as well, which I outlined in a letter to Mayor Tom Rice and presented to him and members of council prior to the October 12th council meeting. In the letter, I provided information on what nearby townships had been doing successfully for many years at a much lower cost. In spite of the fact that I had learned that the city’s contract with its’ waste hauler gave them exclusive authority to collect all wastes in North Canton, I provided two bids from two local landscape firms for the same service.

The bids ($39,000 and $37,800) were substantially less than the $50,000 fee being charged by the city’s contracted waste hauler, Republic Waste. I asked the administration why they did not call the waste hauler and ask them to waive their exclusive on just the pickup of biodegradable yard waste in the city. The City Administrator stated “Why would we want to – I‘m not sure why we would want to do that.”

I responded, “So we can solicit bids. I mean I have two bids here that are substantially lower than the $50,000 that…”

This discussion begins on page seven of the council minutes for October 14, 2002 (see Item 13).

The Outcome: The legislation was read at one open council meeting on October 14, 2002. The administration had requested that the legislation be passed on an emergency. Passage of legislation on an emergency requires six votes of council and allows legislation to take affect immediately upon its approval by the mayor.

In the only reading of the legislation, all members present voted as follows:

Yes: Snyder, Foltz, Kiesling, Lindower, Magel & McLaughlin
No: Osborne

A second vote was taken by council to suspend the rules requiring the legislation be read at three different, regular council meetings. In the vote to suspend the rules for this legislation, all members present voted as follows:

Yes: Foltz, Kiesling, Lindower, Magel, McLaughlin, & Snyder No: Osborne

A third vote to adopt the legislation under the suspension of the rules was taken. In the vote to adopt the legislation under the suspension of the rules, all members present voted as follows:

Yes: Kiesling, Lindower, Magel, McLaughlin, Snyder & Foltz
No: Osborne

The passage of the legislation was reported in the Repository, October 15, 2002, titled, “Bob-O-Link in line for city services”.

After this legislation was passed on an “emergency” on October 14, 2002, the administration mailed flyers announcing the Leaf Recycling Program to residents. 

The flyer that was mailed at public expense citywide proclaimed, "City of North Canton Introduces Time Rice's Leaf Recycling Program." I thought that the wording on the announcement was self-serving, and that it should have read, "City of North Canton Introduces New Leaf Recycling Program."

I expressed my displeasure in a letter to Mayor Tom Rice, which I also read at an October 28, 2002 council meeting. At the same meeting, Ward Three Councilman Rickie McLaughlin and Councilwoman Marcia Kiesling also expressed displeasure about the wording of the flyer.

Our aversion to the wording of the flyer was reported in a Repository newspaper report on October 29, 2002, titled, “N. Canton councilmen have beef over leaf flier; postal worker’s action earns praise.”

The Repository report begins, “When City Council members approved a six-week, $50,000 curbside leaf recycling program, they didn’t expect it to be named after Mayor Tom Rice.”

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My Position and Rationale

My Position: I was opposed to the expenditure of $50,000 for the curbside pickup of leaves for six-weeks.

bullet The program for the curbside pickup of leaves was brought to council extremely late in the season.
bullet The $50,000 price tag for the curbside pickup of leaves was quite expensive.

The city already had a contract for the pickup of biodegradable yard waste with Republic Waste. The problem was that the waste hauler could dispose of the bagged leaves at a landfill under the present contract.

In effect, this legislation allowed the waste hauler to collect additional fees in exchange for not taking the leaves to a landfill. The residents of the City of North Canton were actually paying twice for the same service.

bullet The use of paper bags seemed to be a problem for the following reasons:

The purchase of paper bags was inconvenient and expensive for residents.

The paper bags would likely fail in inclement weather.

bullet The Leaf Recycling Program should not be rushed through council as emergency legislation.

When legislation is passed on an “emergency”, residents do not have time to present ideas or provide input into the legislative process.

Given that the bags were expensive and not durable in inclement weather, I had suggested in a Council of the Whole meeting the week before the vote on this legislation that the city experiment with having residents rake their leaves into the curb and contract with a vendor who would vacuum the leaves from the curb. This would save residents the trouble of buying special bags and the trouble of bagging the leaves. This is done in the Village of Hill and Dales and in Akron.

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Research & Documentation


bullet My letter to Mayor Tom Rice with alternate bids (October 13, 2002)
bullet My letter to Mayor Tom Rice regarding flyer (October 28, 2002)
bullet Letter from Mr. Ronald Kindy to City Council (May 27, 2003)

Press Coverage:

Canton Repository:

bullet Council considers the cost of annexation (October 8, 2002)
bullet Bob-O-Link in line for city services (October 15, 2002)
bullet N. Canton councilmen have beef over leaf flier; postal worker’s action earns praise (October 29, 2002)
bullet Leaf-recycling project raking in participation (June 12, 2003)

Akron Beacon Journal*
Archived  Akron Beacon Journal articles are available to view on the web for a fee of $2.95 per article.  Past Akron Beacon Journal editions can also be found at local public libraries.

bullet Council unites fire, EMS departments (October 15, 2002)

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