At last week’s City Council meeting, member Lisa Babcock said she’d be asked to find out if there would be another no-fee yard waste pick-up this spring. City Manager George Lahanas replied that at that point, he did not believe there was any plan for it, as there had already been two rounds. But he said he’d look into it.
A couple of days later, the City announced that there would indeed be another round.
So when will that happen, why, and – to answer a question posed by one ELi reader on Facebook – what will this “no-fee” yard waste collection actually cost the taxpayers?
Let’s start with the reasoning.
If the City wanted to charge individual property owners for the cost of pick-up, as it does most of the year, it would have to make available either City-branded bags or City-branded stickers to put on bags purchased elsewhere. That’s how the charge from the City for the pick-up service works.
But City offices remain closed at least through June 12, and the City hasn’t figured out a way to safely sell bags or stickers. So unless you’re someone who happens to have leftover East Lansing bags or stickers, or you know how to get some on the black market, then you would either need a free pick-up or you would have to wait until the City figures out how to sell you a sticker.
Hence another “free” pick-up. As our reader pointed out with the question, these pick-ups aren’t free to taxpayers. The pick-ups just shift the cost from individual property owners availing themselves of the service to the City’s taxpayers as a whole.
So what do these “free” pick-ups cost?
We asked the City’s Environmental Services Administrator Cathy DeShambo to answer that question.
In all of May of 2019, no-fee yard waste pick-up cost the City about $6,300. In all of May of this year, it cost the City about $8,000.
The unusual third-round no-fee collection that’s about to happen will probably include less material than previous rounds, according to DeShambo, because historically the second round always collects less than the first, and this will be an atypical third round. Less stuff, lower cost.
It’s not clear whether free pick-ups discourage composting, or charging encourages composting. But we do know that composting material on your own property costs the City taxpayers nothing and also produces a lower carbon footprint.
Your next pick-up date will depend on whether you’re on the east or the west side of town.
For properties east of Abbot Road, pick-up will be next Monday, June 1. For properties west of Abbot Road, pick-up will be a week later, on Monday, June 8. After that, the plan is to resume requirement of City bags or stickers with Monday pick-ups. (No word yet on how you will get them.)
The usual rules for putting yard-waste out apply:
- You have to put the material out no sooner than 8 p.m. Sunday night and no later than 7:30 a.m. Monday morning. So set your alarm.
- Yard waste has to be in a paper yard waste bag or a rigid, 32-gallon plastic garbage can.
- Each batch can’t weigh more than 40 pounds.
- Brush and limbs can be bundled up with string but can’t be longer than 4 feet, can’t weigh more than 40 pounds, and can’t include any limb bigger than 4 inches in diameter.