Truck plan aims to keep city tidy

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CYNTHIA MARTENS
Hillsboro residents with pride in their surroundings are taking advantage of a weekend clean-up program initiated six years ago by the city.

The “Reserve a Dump Truck Program” was signed by Mayor Delores Dalke as a municipal-policy statement at a regular city-council meeting in 1998.

“This is important to help keep things clean in the city and cut down the time city crews spend during spring cleanup,” said Jan Meisinger, Hillsboro city clerk. “And, it’s a service to the people.”

To participate in the program, a reservation must be made ahead of time, and a city-crew member will drop off a dump truck on weekends only at a designated site and then takes the keys. The truck is picked up on Monday, driven to the Marion County transfer station, and the load is dumped.

Hillsboro’s annual Spring Clean-Up was scheduled this year for April 26 through April 30. In conjunction with clean-up week, the city advertised the reserve-a-truck program. But the program is available all-year long.

“It didn’t use to be offered year round, but we’ve changed that over the years,” Meisinger said.

The idea for the program came from a similar project in Hutchinson.

“We just thought it was a good idea and decided to do that ourselves, too,” Meisinger said.

To reserve a truck, citizens can call the city office at 947-3162,
8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Someone in the front office takes the information and has paperwork available for residents to come in and sign as a letter of agreement.

That letter is then forwarded to the street department.

Each household may reserve a truck one time a year for free, with no dump charges. Thereafter, they will be charged per ton on a prorated basis according to the current dump charges at the transfer station. When the program was initiated, the dump charge was $38 per ton according to scale-ticket weight.

The city has three dump trucks, and two are available to be reserved every weekend, which leaves one for city use on the weekend and three during the week.

“They’re using the trucks a lot of times during the week,” Meisinger said.

The trucks function in the winter time for snow removal. “Or if there’s a project going on, they could be hauling dirt, picking up limbs and things like that,” Meisinger added.

The general rules of the reserve-a-truck program are as follows:

n Trucks may be reserved for any given weekend as they become available. The vehicle is dropped off late Friday afternoon, stays on the premises through the weekend and is picked up after 8:30 a.m. Monday. The truck is emptied only once.

n Reservations will not be accepted more than two weekends in advance.

n Commercial entities may not participate in the program, which was put in place for property owners and homeowners only.

n For safety purposes, the truck should not be placed in a hazardous location and will be operated only by a city employee.

Adequate space must be provided for the truck, and someone must be responsible for supervising the loading of items to prevent any damage to the vehicle. If damage does occur to the truck or contents, it could jeopardize reserving the truck in the future.

n If a truck is reserved but is needed for storm cleanup or emergency use, the city has priority over the property owner.

n A truck must be loaded to permit safe transportation to the transfer station without the need for a city employee to have to stack or adjust it.

Material not loaded in the truck bed by Monday morning will not be taken to the transfer station.

n Items prohibited on the truck are brush, leaves, yard waste and hazardous material, such as tires, vehicle batteries and asbestos products.

All leaves, grass clippings, shrubs, dead flowers and corn stalks should be taken to the compost pile, located next to the sewer-treatment facility on South Wilson Street.

Brush and limbs are to be taken to an area one mile north of the Hillsboro Alco Discount Store.

Hazardous material can be taken to the city recycle station near Co-operative Grain & Supply on North Ash Street.

n A truck cannot be used on a no-charge basis for the purpose of such construction projects as remodeling and reroofing. It may be rented for those purposes at the current per-ton charge at the transfer station.

n One truck per household per location is allowed a year. No more than two trucks per weekend may be reserved from the city’s fleet.

Although one truck per location is allowed, a neighborhood can organize a weekend cleanup, and one responsible party can sign the agreement.

“As long as they’re following what they can put in there, then we wouldn’t have a problem if it’s for more than one household,” Meisinger said.

The program is for Hillsboro residents within the city limits and does not apply to rural Hillsboro property owners or homeowners.

“It’s the city tax dollars ultimately paying for the equipment,” Meisinger said.

A down payment is not required when the truck is reserved. After the truck is weighed at the transfer station and cost-per ton is calculated, the city only bills the homeowner if the truck is reserved more than once a year by the same person.

From records kept at the city building, Meisinger was able to determine in mid April that 25 truck reservations have been made under the program since July 2003.

“Before this program, they were having to find some way to haul this stuff to the transfer station themselves,” Meisinger said.

But today, thanks to the city program and taxpayers’ dollars, those old television sets and broken recliners can be loaded up and hauled away-all in an effort to keep the community clean.

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