Apache Junction residents who refuse curbside collection could face civil, criminal penalties

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Anyone not using curbside solid-waste collection in the City of Apache Junction could be subject to a fine of $350 on the first occurrence, $600 on the second and a criminal violation with a fine of up to $2,500 on the third, according to draft wording for a city code change.

Covered residences are required to subscribe to a weekly solid-waste collection service provided through a contract with the City Council.

The City Council at a meeting in August agreed to enter into contract negotiations with Allied Waste Transportation, also known as Republic Services, to become the municipality’s waste- and recycling-hauling sole provider. Republic Services’ bid was for $10.71 for curbside solid waste pick-up two times a week, with no recycling; and $18.71 for curbside solid waste pick-up two times a week plus recycling once a week.

Requiring curbside solid-waste collection services for residents living in single-family homes, duplexes, triplexes and four-plexes --- with recycling as an option --- is to be added to the Apache Junction City Code. The changes and the civil- and criminal-violations penalties were discussed at the Nov. 4 City Council work session.

“I have a problem. We’re talking about criminal citations in here for not having trash service. I just have a big problem with that,” Councilwoman Christa Rizzi said.

“This is a civil matter. It shouldn’t be a criminal matter,” she said.

Civil and criminal citations are to be pursued only after an initial notice has been refused, ignored or full compliance has failed. The civil penalties, according to the draft document, are as follows:

  • First offense during a 24-consecutive-month period: civil penalty of $350.
  • Second offense during the same 24-consecutive-month period: civil penalty of $600.
  • Third offense and subsequent offenses within the same 24-consecutive-month period: class 1 misdemeanor criminal fine of not less than $1,000 up to $2,500, and other penalties as a result of the conviction.

“We just mimic current code... If there’s alternatives you want to propose --- if the council desires, we can make it all civil,” Assistant City Manager Matt Busby said at the work session.

Some people who receive a civil violation disregard any notices and don’t make their way to court, City Attorney Joel Stern said.

“(I)t’s very difficult to enforce if you don’t have anything more than just a civil penalty,” he said.

“Sometimes when you just have civil violations of repetitive offenders, there’s really no incentive to come to court. There’s no incentive to pay the fees --- they’re called penalties, actually, when it’s civil. When it’s criminal, it’s an actual criminal-violation fine,” Mr. Stern said.

“Some people won’t --- they’ll ignore --- and so, what do you do at that point? They don’t come to court, so in a civil violation it’s called a default judgment,” Mr. Stern said.

Some cities in California will place a lien on the person’s land and forfeit the property, he said.

“At that point, the city owns the house --- or whoever pays the fees. So that’s how that works. But I know you don’t want to do anything like that,” he said.

It would be easier to pay the estimated $128.52-a-year for trash service than to not have it and be fined $350, Development Services Director Larry Kirch said.

“I think from a practical standpoint, if you take $10.71 a month times 12, that’s a lot less than the $350. So, in reality, anybody who would not subscribe to trash collection who is going to be subject to a civil forfeiture of $350, it kind of doesn’t make sense to me,” he said.

“So I hope we would never ever take someone to court because they didn’t subscribe because it’s cheaper to subscribe than to pay one $350,” he said.

According to a memo to the council from Assistant City Manager Busby and Assistant to the City Manager Anna McCray, the draft ordinance rewrites Apache Junction City Code, Chapter 9, Health and Sanitation, Article 9-5: Collection of Residential Solid Waste, to:

  • Require curbside solid waste collection services for covered residents defined as single family homes, duplexes, triplexes and four-plexes.
  • Offer recycling as an option.
  • City to contract with a single hauler to provide solid waste and recycling collection services.
  • Define contractor’s responsibilities in operation including but not limited to the days and hours collection services are allowed, attaining resident subscription compliance, contractor licensing and taxes, vehicle maintenance, transport of materials and market condition adjustments.
  • Set resident standards for preparation of solid waste, recycling and bulk trash pick-up.
  • Set resident standards for receptacle placement, removal and storage.
  • Define city’s responsibilities in first seeking voluntary compliance on provisions of ordinance, right to conduct inspections only after reports of a violation and enforcement options/penalties when voluntary compliance efforts have been exhausted.

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