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City of Lexington preparing to impose minimum $350 fee for garbage not in containers

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LEXINGTON, N.C. -- Most people would agree that they don’t want to walk into their neighborhood and see garbage out of a container just sitting on the curb.

But where people in Lexington disagree is what should be done about it.

Starting July 1, The City of Lexington will enforce a minimum $350 violation fee for garbage collection that is not in a container.

This applies to both waste collection and recyclable services.

“We're asking our citizens to help beautify Lexington and the way they’re going to do that is to make sure all of their recyclables and all their garbage is in the containers with the lid closed instead of stacked beside it,” Assistant City Manager Terra Greene said.

Greene says the city has had “repeat offenders” and explains that the issue is not only a matter of taking pride in the community’s appearance, but depending on the waste, it’s a potential health hazard to workers.

Picking up trash outside of a container can also change certain labor aspects of the job.

The city started handing out violation stickers last week.

According to the official notice of violation, the third notice of violation comes with a minimum fee of $350 to be applied to the recipient’s next bill.

“If it takes the gentleman longer than an hour to pick up the excess garbage that's outside the can, then it's an extra $150 per hour, so that's why we state a minimum of $350,” Greene said.

Some people are not happy about the policy.

“It’s surprisingly high,” Anna Mendez said. “It’s basically going in the trash. That’s money going in the trash. That’s how I feel.”

Some customers say the city should consider that all homes get the same size trash bin whether two people live in the home or six people live there.

“For most people, the bin is completely full and then some on the side, even with a recyclable bin this size too,” Valerie Everhart said.

Everhart suggested the city consider either providing an additional bin or increasing its pick-up days as possible solutions.

However, Robert Kindle thinks it’s a good idea.

“It will make the city look a whole lot better,” he said. “It will teach a lot of people the hard way to do the right thing.”

The City of Lexington plans to send brochures with utility bills in late June/early July explaining the changes.

The city also has information on its website explaining the violation fees.