MOUNT VERNON — Trash haulers may have to fall in line with the same requirements as a preferred hauler selected by the city.

The Monday meeting of Mount Vernon City Council included a presentation by councilmembers Chris Menapace and Mike Hillier in a Utilities committee meeting that presented ideas for a preferred hauler program that residents would have the option to join, or ignore and stay with their trash hauler of choice.

The preferred hauler would be selected by placing the service out for bid. By bidding on a contract for the city as a whole, the preferred hauler would ideally be able to offer service at prices that are lower than haulers operating in the area on a smaller scale.

It was further discussed that, if council so chooses, it can adopt ordinances that restrict trash haulers to the same rules that will apply to the preferred hauler, such as hours of collection and equipment standards involving trucks. Councilmembers Sam Barone and Nancy Vail had an issue with that provision, who felt that having the same rules apply across the board would be too restrictive.

Menapace’s proposal included dividing the city into quadrants. The hauler would be restricted to collecting trash on a single day in each quadrant, and it was suggested that other haulers stick to those days.

Both Barone and Vail said they felt that limiting the non-preferred haulers to a single day would amount to a restriction on their ability to do business.

Menapace said Monday’s committee meeting was a session for council to begin discussing the issue and come up with a plan. Once council has a plan, they will open it to discussion in a public meeting, Menapace said.

The preferred hauler plan would allow customers to opt-in, that is, take action on their own to go with the preferred hauler. Doing nothing would allow the customer to continue with the hauler of their choice.

The proposal put forth by Hillier and Menapace further recommended that different service packages be provided. Those options include unlimited pick-up, a volume package charged by the bag and an option for alternative area pick-up for customers who cannot physically get their trash to the curb. The proposal further suggested ‘ala carte’ pricing for bulk items and requests outside of the regular contract options.

Menapace said he will revise the proposal based on council’s comments. The proposal is scheduled for further discussion in a Utilities commission meeting to be held before the next meeting of council.

Streets and Public Buildings

Council seems to be adopting a favorable attitude toward golf carts on city streets, the topic of a Streets and Public Buildings committee meeting.

Councilmember Matt Starr said golf carts can be of economic benefit to the city in the way of tourism and opportunity for businesses to rent them out. Hillier said many people who travel in large recreational vehicles bring along golf carts to use as transportation at their destination.

If golf carts are to be used in the city, Mount Vernon Police Chief Roger Monroe said they would first have to pass inspection to determine if they are up to city code. The carts would be required to have such features as headlights, a warning device (horn), brake lights and turn signals.

Ohio law restricts golf carts to streets with speed limits of 35 miles per hour or less, according to information presented at the meeting. They are barred from traveling on city streets that are also state routes — meaning streets such as Coshocton Avenue and Public Square are off-limits.

A vacant building ordinance was adopted during the legislative session of council.

The ordinance requires the owners of property that fits the definition of a vacant building to register with the city and provide an approved plan for the building. They must further maintain the property in compliance with standards set in the ordinance, and pay annual registration fees. Those fees start at $400 per year, doubling up after two years and doubling every year thereafter, topping out at $6,400.

A vacant building is defined as one that has no active utility connections; has been boarded up and/or is deemed vacant.

City Law Director Rob Broeren said the buildings in the registry will be monitored for violations by the property maintenance code officer. The registry applies to commercial, industrial or institutional properties.

In other business, council:

•Approved the purchase of a lot at the corner of West Vine and South Mulberry streets for $67,795. The lot will be used in a multi-phase traffic corridor project directing traffic along Ohio 13 and Ohio 229, City Engineer Brian Ball said.

•Held a second reading of an ordinance adopting the Mount Vernon Downtown plan as a guide “for future development and public improvements within downtown Mount Vernon.”

•Approved Safety-Service Director Joel Daniels to sign off on a grant application for Ohio Department of Natural Resources Nature Works grant funding. The application is for $90,000 and will be used to pave a section of trail around middle lake in Ariel-Foundation Park that is currently gravel.

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Nick Sabo: 740-397-5333 or and on Twitter,