Since Seymour rolled out the use of automated trash collection six years ago, there have been few problems — until recently.

Now that the service is no longer new, some residents have become complacent about making sure to wheel their 96-gallon trash toters back to their homes after the trash has been picked up, city officials said.

Last month, city ordinance enforcer Brent Goben mailed out more than 400 letters to people for not removing their gray trash toters from the street, curb or sidewalk in a timely fashion, he said.

Goben said the city requires the toters be moved to the side of or behind a residence within 24 hours after trash collection. Each letter he mails contains a copy of the ordinance explaining the rule and the consequences for not adhering to it.

Story continues below gallery

The letters serve as a second warning. The first notice is a red tag placed on the toter by the Department of Public Works.

“DPW runs the route again after 24 hours of pickup and tags any of them that are still out,” Goben said. “The ordinance is printed on the tag so people know why they got it and what could happen next.”

A list is compiled by DPW of all of the addresses not in compliance, and that list is provided to Goben, who then sends the letter and copy of the ordinance to the tagged homes’ occupants.

If the toter is left out again the following week, Goben said he then takes the next step and sends a warning ticket to the property owner. The warning states should a third tag be received, it will result in a $50 fine.

“I’ve written six tickets so far for violations,” Goben said.

A Seymour resident recently received such a fine and appeared before the city’s board of public works and safety to dispute it. The man, who lives in the 800 block of North Park Street, said health issues and a physical disability often prevent him from being able to move his trash toter as soon as the city requires.

“But it was never in anyone’s way,” he said.

The man was first notified in June, and the toter was tagged a second time in October, Goben said.

“On Oct. 30, DPW tagged the toter a third time, and I wrote the citation on Nov. 4,” he said.

Goben said he understands and sympathizes with the individual and supported his request to dismiss the fine this time.

“I think the lesson has been learned, and I believe he will be more diligent about it,” Goben said. “Obviously, there are some legitimate reasons where we are willing to work with the resident to come up with a solution.”

One answer might be providing the resident with a smaller toter, he said.

Another ticket Goben issued was voided, he said, because no one was living in the home and the property owner lived out of town.

Goben said it’s not unusual for the city to get calls from people complaining that their neighbors or other residents in their neighborhoods aren’t complying with the law.

The Tribune also has received calls and letters from readers about the issue.

But the number of complaints has gone down in recent weeks thanks to the letter-writing campaign, Goben said.

“I think people just needed a reminder and need to get back into the routine,” he said.

The ordinance is in place to keep the city visually appealing and as a safety issue so that trash cans don’t become traffic hazards.

“Nobody wants to drive through town and see a bunch of trash cans out all the time, and that’s what was happening,” Goben said.

Author photo
January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.