An Augusta resident who recently moved here from Colorado volunteers her time in area Sierra Club cleanup campaigns because, she says, "We have the dirtiest roads I've ever seen."
She's not alone in noticing there are many areas of the Garden City that look like Garbage City - streets and roadsides strewn with discarded bottles, cans, paper wrappers and worse. Widespread litter isn't the worst of it, either.
A big problem in the Augusta area is illegal dumping. In the month of June the marshal's department, responsible for prosecuting unlawful littering and dumping, investigated 142 dumping cases. But they're hard to prove, because to win a conviction usually requires catching the culprit red-handed.
Obviously, then, it makes no sense for a community with serious illegal dumping and littering problems to cut back on garbage pickups from twice a week to once a week, as the Augusta Commission was considering doing. The idea was to avoid raising pickup fees in the face of rising gas prices.
Commissioners should never be discouraged from exploring ways to save their constituents money, but there are some things worse than paying higher fees for services. Reducing residential pickups to once weekly could only make Augusta's already bad illegal dumping problem worse.
Most folks don't want their garbage stinking up their homes for a whole week, or to choke their community with more trash. That was the message the commission got after temporarily cutting service to once weekly. Residential customers clearly prefer keeping the twice weekly pickups, even if it means digging deeper into their pocketbooks.
And so they will. The city commission rightly voted to restore the twice-a-week pickups and raise the garbage rates by $81 a year, from $195 to $276.
It's money well spent.
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