KENDALLVILLE — Kendallville residents can’t voluntarily opt out of trash service.
That’s the call made by the city Board of Works and Public Safety after two weeks of deliberation.
Any resident with active utility service will also receive, and pay for, trash and recycling at their residence with no exceptions allowed.
“After a lot of discussion and taking everything into consideration, I just believe, we all believe, we should stay with what we have, that people pay the bill and have the service,” Mayor Suzanne Handshoe said.
Board of Works members announced the official policy on Tuesday, after receiving opt-out requests from residents during their last two meetings.
The three requests they received were all slightly different — one from a man who claimed he was an extreme recycler and generated only two grocery bags of trash per year, one from a man with a commercial dumpster at his business where he took his and his mother’s home trash to dump, and one from the McCray Mansion owners who have two water meters on the property and therefore were being billed twice.
After receiving opt-out requests in December and January, city leaders realized they would need to make some kind of official policy on whether they would allow people to voluntarily cancel trash service.
On Tuesday, the decision was no, they wouldn’t.
“If you have a water bill, you’re going to get a trash fee and a trash tote and we have to go from there,” Handshoe said. “This is the only way we’re going to clean up the city.”
Handshoe acknowledged they continue to receive calls and letters from people who live alone and generate little trash or have other extenuating circumstances, but the city isn’t able to police and manage those exceptions.
Kendallville contracted with Noble County Disposal to provide citywide trash service starting in 2021. The city explored the idea in 2018, but shelved the plan for two years after the former McCray Refrigerator factory burned down and required cleanup. The idea was picked up again in 2020, when the city bid out a contract and selected Noble County Disposal this past summer.
Kendallville had primarily sought to enact trash service because the city found that most of its code enforcement complaints for junk and trash were connected to residences that didn’t have monthly trash service. Adopting a citywide service would not only start ensuring that everyone had garbage service but also that most residences would see some savings compared to their individual plans.
City residents are paying $13.38 per month for weekly trash and every-other week recycling, as well as bulk curbside pickup twice per year. For customers who had Noble County Disposal prior to the citywide contract, that rate represented a savings of about $20 every three months.
That rate is locked in for the next five years and is based on splitting the cost among all of the city customers.
Allowing people to start voluntarily dropping on or off of trash service would have affected the income of fees needed to pay that annual contract.