Columbus residents could have to pay to get their yard waste hauled away.

Columbus residents could have to pay to get their yard waste hauled away.

The Department of Public Service is recommending that residents pay a $49.50 fee for a six-month contract with Rumpke. That translates to roughly $1.90 a week.

"Our residents asked us to find a way to offer some type of yard-waste service," public service director Mark Kelsey said in a prepared statement. "The subscription service we are proposing is the best viable option."

The other options that were considered included providing service to each of the 230,000 households once in the spring and once in the fall, or providing no service, said Mary Carran Webster, assistant director of public service.

Residents would have the option of signing up for six months -- renewable for another six months -- or for one year of service. Rumpke would collect up to 15 bags, containers or bundles of yard waste each week from subscribers. Rumpke is prepared to begin offering the service as soon as mid-April.

A sticker program in which residents pay a fee for each removal was not considered because of the city's size, Webster said. However, those who take part in the program will be able to purchase $1 stickers per bag that exceed the 15 maximum, she said.

"We call it a voluntary program because there are other options open to people as well, such as doing their own composting or taking their composting waste to another facility," Webster said.

Beset with budget shortfalls, the city is looking for ways to increase revenue. Officials also have considered raising the income tax .25 percent, something they might put before voters this fall.

Paul Harris, a member of the Clintonville Area Commission, said he supports user fees and more budget cuts until the economy improves.

"My first thing is, any measure the city takes to increase fees is going to be a better option than increasing he city's income tax," he said. "In my view, the one thing that absolutely must be off the table is increasing the city's income tax because of the long-term harmful consequences."

Jennifer Adair, president of the Northwest Civic Association, said she has some reservations about the proposal.

"I think it is going to be a hardship" for some homeowners, she said. "And I think you're going to see people disposing of yard waste in ways that are not appropriate."

It is not illegal for residents to put yard waste in their trash containers, but it adds to the volume and weight of garbage, which increases the cost for the city, Webster said.

"Certainly it's not a good thing to do for the environment," she said.

The yard-waste measure must be approved by Columbus City Council.

Councilman Hearcel Craig has scheduled a public hearing on the proposal at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 2, in city council chambers. The full council is expected to vote on the proposal April 6.