Budget cuts mean a change this year to the City of Wichita's annual Neighborhood Clean-up program. The city is asking some neighborhoods to help cover the cost of the clean-ups. But at least one neighborhood association says it can't afford to.
Neighborhood Clean-ups are an annual tradition across the city of Wichita. You could get rid of all that over-sized trash you couldn't normally throw away. Until now the city has paid for it.
"Because of the budget cuts, we had to find a way to still be inclusive of all neighborhoods with the funding levels that we have available to us," said Lashonda Garnes, the District 1 Neighborhood Assistant in charge of the program.
Which means the city is charging based on a neighborhood's income level. For example, higher income neighborhoods may now be asked to pay for some or all of the cleanup. While in lower income neighborhoods it will be free.
"Which i can understand," said John Van Walleghen, President of the Benjamin Hills/Pleasant Valley Neighborhood Association.
What he can't understand is why his neighborhood, which has areas that fall into all three categories, can't have just one clean -up day.
"One of our main complaints is that they are requiring us to do three separate clean-ups," he said.
Not every street in his neighborhood looks quite like the same. And he says that's part of the problem. Because his association does represent everyone who lives on all of its streets. Trying to split them up is bad for the neighborhood, he says.
"We could afford to pay for it once, but we wouldn't have any money to do it next year, maybe not even the year after that," added Van Walleghen.
He says his budget is small. But keeping his neighborhood looking nice is the association's main job.
"We don't have the power of taxation. We're not a government. We're a neighborhood association," he said.
His association wrote a letter of complaint to the city, explaining members' concerns.
The city only approved the changes for 2013. It will review how things worked in November and decide how to move forward next year.
"This is a program that we are constantly looking at and we're constantly monitoring to see how we can provide the best service to the community," said Garnes.
The income levels used to determine how much a neighborhood has to pay are based on the 2010 Census numbers.
The city is still taking applications for the clean-up days. To find out if your neighborhood is applying, contact your local neighborhood association.