Council Addresses Yard Waste, Motorized Wheelchairs

73
Photo Source: www.cityofmilford.com.
Photo Source: www.cityofmilford.com.

On Monday, October 14, Milford City Council decided to continue the yard waste program throughout the winter. City Manager Richard Carmean said the recommendation came from Brad Dennehy, Director of Public Works, who said that winter storms sometimes cause branches to break, requiring residents to dispose of branches and other yard waste even in the winter months.

“We originally planned to stop the yard waste program as of November 1,” Mr. Carmean explained, but we think that it would be better to try and run the program all year.” Councilman Skip Pikus asked whether there was an additional charge for the yard waste pick up.

“There is a charge for bulk items, such as refrigerators or sofas,” Mr. Carmean explained. “But as long as the yard waste fits in the can provided, we pick it up at the same amount we charge for trash and recycling.” Councilman Garrett Grier suggested that the city review the costs charged for trash pickup as surrounding areas are charging much more for fewer pickups.

“We haven’t looked at that price lately, and I know areas outside of Milford are paying much more for their trash removal,” Councilman Grier said. Mr. Carmean said that areas outside of Milford were paying as much as $100 per quarter, while Milford residents are paying less than $75 per quarter.

“I notice there are some people putting bags and bags of trash out at the curb,” Councilman Owen Brooks said. “They are paying the same amount as those of us who just put out a bag or two. We may want to take a look at that.” Councilman Doug Morrow asked whether people who consistently place garbage at the curb that will not fit in the can are charged additional fees.

“What we normally do is tell them they have to have another can,” Mr. Carmean explained. “The trash crews are supposed to make a note if they see someone who consistently has more trash than what fits in the container, but a lot of times, they forget. We will remind them to pay better attention.”

Councilman Pikus mentioned during the finance report that it may be time to look at the trash costs as the reserves in that account are lower than normal.

“Normally, we have between $500,000 and $600,000 in that account, but we are down to $413,000,” Councilman Pikus explained. Mr. Carmean explained that they did purchase a new trash track this year, which could account for the shortage, but agreed that it was time to review whether the amount charged was covering the service.

MOTORIZED WHEELCHAIRS ADDRESSED

Additionally on Monday, the Council heard from City Solicitor David Rutt regarding the ability of city council to require safety features on motorized wheelchairs. Mr. Rutt was asked by council at a previous meeting to review whether the city could require the wheelchairs to have safety features that would make them more visible to motorists.

“Many of these people probably have no other means of transportation,” Councilman Owen Brooks said. “I often see a gentleman riding along Route 113 by the bowling alley, and it seems very unsafe for him.” Councilman Katrina Wilson said that without the safety features, it seems as if the person using the motorized wheelchair is the one in danger, even more than the motorists driving around them.

According to Mr. Rutt, there are no regulations in the Delaware Motor Vehicle Code that addresses requirements for motorized wheelchairs. However, a review of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), there is a provision that allows municipalities to require additional items on a motorized wheelchair in order to make them safer for both the person in the wheelchair and motorists around them. Mr. Rutt explained that the city could require the motorized devices to display flags or reflective tape to make them more visible. He told council that Police Chief Keith Hudson had provided him with information about a gentleman in Florida who was struck and killed while using one of the wheelchairs.

Councilwoman Katrina Wilson asked how the ordinance could be enforced, and Mr. Rutt explained that there could be no enforcement until they educated the public. Chief Hudson suggested that civic associations may be able to purchase and donate the safety equipment to those who needed it. Chief Hudson also suggested that companies that sell the chairs may be willing to inform those who purchase them of the ordinance.

“I think we have a few apartment complexes and other places where we could hold a few meetings and get the word out,” Councilwoman Wilson said. “It definitely seems to be something worth looking into.

City Council authorized Mr. Rutt to contact other towns to determine what policies or ordinances existed that may be implemented in Milford to improve the safety of the motorized wheelchair passengers and other motorists travelling in the same area.