New Castle News


January 15, 2014

Our Opinion: Mahoning grapples with disposal abuses

NEW CASTLE — Mahoning Township has a garbage problem.

Or, to be more precise, it has a problem with people who aren’t interested in following the rules.

Mahoning has an arrangement where older and disabled residents may dump their household trash at township-selected sites free of charge. Everyone else has to pay a private hauler.

A landfill just over the border in Ohio provides this service at no cost to the township — unless things go wrong. And things are going wrong.

To put it simply, people who don’t qualify for the disposal benefit are dumping their trash as well. And officials believe many of these individuals aren’t even township residents. Designated trash bins can’t hold all the garbage.

This causes an overflow of trash that prevents the trucks from collecting any of it, putting the responsibility on the township. And last month, this reportedly cost Mahoning $1,800, which was covered by taxpayers.

Mahoning officials have made several moves designed to thwart or otherwise discourage those who are abusing this service. But short of posting guards at the sites — a financially impractical option — there is no effective means of doing so.

Things have gotten so bad that township officials have considered closing the three disposal sites and eliminating the free service completely. But as you might imagine, that’s not a politically popular option.

On the other hand, having taxpayers cover the cost of trash cheats is wrong as well. So are there any options for solving the problem while maintaining the service?

Perhaps. One idea being considered is for the township to purchase trash bags of a particular color — similar to the blue bags used in New Castle — and distribute them to the residents eligible for the free service. Only trash in these bags could be dumped at township sites.

This option would require limiting the amount of trash bags these residents would receive. It would also depend on a monitoring system that would catch people dumping without the bags.

All of this may seem like a strange issue for local government to address. But there’s something about trash disposal that brings out the worst in some people.

Folks who use the recycling bins established by Lawrence County know what we are referring to. Routinely, people dispose of non-recyclables at these bins and will leave their refuse on the ground. Most of these sites have been eliminated because of ongoing abuses.

Regardless of what local government does, we think citing rule breakers is key. Getting word out that bad behavior won’t be tolerated is the best way to end it.

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