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Council reviews bulky item program changes
The bulky item collection program in Ceres is being modified to prevent unnecessary eyesores from continuing in residential neighborhoods. The city said residents should call for a scheduled pick-up before they set items at the curb.

The city of Ceres and its refuse collector of Bertolloti Ceres Disposal are working on changes to the Residential Bulky Item Curbside Collection Program which the council heard about Monday and gave its blessings.

Changes are in order for two reasons: the rise of illegal dumping in Ceres and the increase in the amount of tonnage being picked up.

Currently Bertolloti provides up to two collections each calendar year per resident for all single-family homes, duplexes, triplexes, and four-plexes on one parcel of property and mobile home parks. Last year Bertolotti scheduled 40 pickups per week generating 521 tons of waste. That’s a whopping increase from the 2014 total of 227 tons.

“There’s a lot of folks utilizing this program,” said City Manager Toby Wells. “There’s obviously some challenges with it.”

The backlog in collecting large items like mattresses, couches and refrigerators is prompting that items being left out at the curb too long, creating confusion about what is an illegal dump or not and if it should be reported. It’s also creating visual blight in neighborhoods.

Over the past couple of years, the reported tonnage has included the cleanups of illegal dumping which are coordinated with Bertolotti’s available staff and resources. On an average week in 2018, there were four illegal dumps included with the weekly scheduled bulky item pickups. During the worst week, there were 11 illegal dumps.

Wells noted that Bertolotti has only been scheduling up 40 pick-ups a week. When a resident calls and all 40 pick-up slots are taken, the request will be answered the following week. This month, Bertolotti increased the capacity of the crews and began scheduling for 50 pickups per week to reduce the length of time between a resident calling to schedule a pick-up and the actual scheduled pick-up.

In addition, Bertolotti is shifting its bulky item pick-up days from Tuesdays to Mondays to reduce the time items – typically set out at the curb on the weekends – are sitting and awaiting collection.

Wells said the city needs to educate citizens on the rules of program. A Bulky Item Program sheet is proposed to be used to ensure that residents that request the program fully understand the restrictions. 

“We’re finding that folks don’t realize you can’t put bulky items out there (at the curb) and then call for scheduling,” Wells told the council. “That’s what folks are doing that creates the problem.”

The popularity of the program resulted in some residents waiting up to three weeks for a pick-up, said Steve Holloway, general manager of Bertolotti Disposal. “In theory we could have 120 piles sitting out there for up to three weeks. Anytime I drive around something that sits for more than a week I start thinking it’s either an illegal dump or something’s going on.”

Holloway is not ruling out a Tuesday or Wednesday collection day in addition to Mondays.

“I would like to get down to where if you were to call in today you could get picked up next week, just a week out.”