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Some residents believe they're being overcharged by city for recycling

Posted at 4:53 PM, Nov 26, 2018

Some Cleveland residents are feeling overcharged and believe the city is fining them too much for trash and recycle clean up.

“That don’t make no sense. How many houses can you just look at and tell on this street that we can pay $100-$325, “said Sheila Moore, a resident on Cleveland’s East Side.

Since August, the city service department has issued 3,132 citations for more than $387,000 in fines.

“Now they know in this neighborhood we don’t have no $125 -$325 to pay for no recycles and not non-recycle cans,” said Moore.

She said making ends meet is hard enough, but she chose to recycle to do better for the environment.

“I call myself doing the right thing, putting the cans and the plates, papers and stuff in there, and then just putting the garbage in the garbage can,” she said.

She found out, that wasn’t enough. Since she didn’t put the recyclable items out on the right day and in the exact way the city asks, she was fined.

“Why they can’t like have a council meeting or something to sit down and really explain to us what’s recyclable and what’s not recyclable,” Moore said.

But Director Michael Cox with the city's Public Works Department said they did as much as they could do,  and even took a six-month break from fining people to educate them on what to do.

“We were giving out warnings, explaining to people that had bad set outs, what the problems were,” Cox said. “Again, we're not trying to give out tickets, we're trying to get compliance."

“You want to charge me and if I don't pay it you're going to charge me $125?," Moore expressed.

If resident's curbside recyclables and garbage are not prepped in the front yard based on the city's standards, they could face anywhere from a $100 dollar to $350 in fines. Moore and others said that’s unfair.

“That don't make no sense," she said.

After 20 days, if the fine isn't paid, the payment is increased to $20 dollars and then $40, so a $100 fine could end up being $160.

So far, only about 14 percent of residents who have been cited, have actually paid their fines. While he said he doesn’t like the outcome, Cox said that amount isn’t as bad as it seems.

“Well, let me say this, we pick up 30,000 households a week,” he said. “It's not an extraordinary amount, it's more than we want to give out."

He said the city is currently working with a system that is pinpointing certain neighborhoods where people are getting fined the most. He says at the start of the year, they're going to go back to those areas and re-send those criteria notices.