By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer
BLUE ASH - A city that has capitalized on its reputation for service to attract new businesses is cutting back on its freebies.
For the first time in 30 years - and in a cost-cutting move aimed at saving more than $1 million - Blue Ash won't offer free trash pickup for commercial customers.
Council agreed last week to remove businesses from the city's sanitation contract with Rumpke effective next April. The savings will likely be shifted to road improvements, City Manager Marvin Thompson said.
"A lot of road improvements we need to do is driven by the business community. We need to find the resources to do that," he said.
The city will continue to provide free pickup and recycling services for churches, schools, apartments, condominiums, and non-profit organizations.
Free trash pickup for businesses started in 1973 after the city increased its earnings tax to 1 percent.
"We were a growing community back then," said Councilman Jim Sumner. "This is one of the things we did early on to make Blue Ash an attractive place to locate. But, it's a service that has outlived its appropriateness, particularly in today's economy."
Thompson said he didn't know of any other communities in Greater Cincinnati that picked up the tab for commercial waste collection.
He said there's been no outcry from businesses since the city sent out official notices in recent weeks.
Mike Wisniewski, a vice president with the Blue Ash Business Association, said he hasn't heard any complaints either.
"But, we just found out recently," he said.
Manager of Northside Bank & Trust in Blue Ash, he said was unaware until now that the service was free. He assumed corporate officials were being billed for trash collection at his branch bank.
"It's been a great benefit all these years that maybe people didn't know about," Wisniewski said.
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