When Cape Girardeau residents pile their discarded appliances, worn-out furniture, broken swing sets, brush and tree limbs by the curb for the city's annual spring cleanup next month, it may be for the last time.
The cleanup will be held April 12 to 16.
In a cost-cutting move, the city council has decided to eliminate the spring cleanup next year. But council members say the cleanup may be reinstated if the funding situation improves. Canceling the cleanup would save about $52,000, city officials said.
But as a result, the city could suffer a different kind of cost. Stephen Overmann, director of environmental science at Southeast Missouri State University, said eliminating the cleanup could encourage illegal dumping or prompt residents to discard old appliances and other trash in their back yards.
Overmann said the city could end up with a trashier appearance. "Cape Girardeau has been a leader in waste management in Missouri. This represents a bit of a retreat," he said.
City public works crews hauled away nearly 925 tons of trash during the weeklong cleanup last year. Residents put out 742 tons of refuse, nearly 96 tons of yard waste and nearly 87 tons of appliances such as old washers, dryers, refrigerators and water heaters.
Overmann said residents may pile up even more trash on the curbs this April because this could be the last opportunity to have the city remove it.
But city officials expect the amount of trash piled along the streets this year to be about the same as in past years.
"Usually what people are getting rid of is a year's worth of refuse," said Tim Gramling, public works director.
People have been getting rid of such trash at the annual event for years so there isn't a lot of added trash to put out at the curb, he said.
In addition, Gramling said some residents probably aren't even aware that the city plans to end the cleanup program. "A lot of them may not be aware of it next year until it doesn't happen," he said.
Five appliances maximum
The city is making one change in this year's collection rules. It will haul off a maximum of five appliances per household, said Pam Sander, solid waste coordinator. In the past, some residents have put many more appliances out on the curb.
"Last year, there was a guy that had 15 at the curb and 10 more on the porch," Sander said.
Sander said Cape Girardeau's spring cleanup is different from most cities' because crews do pick up appliances. "Most communities don't touch white goods," she said.
The city has to remove compressors from refrigerators and refrigerant chemicals before turning them over to a recycling company, Sander said. Depending on the market, the city has in the past at times even had to pay to dump the appliances, she said.
The pickup service, she said, is for city residents only and designed to dispose of a "reasonable amount" of trash from each household.
335-6611, extension 123
SPRING CLEANUP RULES
All household refuse must be placed at the curb by 6 a.m. on the day of your normal trash collection.
No concrete, logs, railroad ties, tires, motor oil, batteries, pesticides, paint or hazardous materials will be collected.
Swing sets must be taken apart.
Appliances must be at the curb. Doors should be removed for safety.
Grass, leaves and garden waste must be bagged separately from other refuse.
Brush and limbs must be bundled in four-foot lengths and not exceed 75 pounds per bundle.