CHAMPAIGN – As the majority of students leave campus this weekend, city officials are asking them to take one thing with them: their trash.
Property maintenance inspectors were cracking down on campus dwellings this week and next looking for overflowing Dumpsters and loose refuse.
Tables, mattresses, couches, TVs and microwaves are among the items that will be left behind, said Champaign property maintenance supervisor Michael Novotny. And landlords need to keep their alleys from looking like a living room if they want to save themselves a city bill.
The problem is not confined to any specific area of campus, Novotny said. With the "Six Pack" dorms on the south end, a 24-story apartment building farther north and Greek houses peppered in between, there are plenty of students with trash to dump before they leave for the summer.
"It's pretty much a mixture of all – apartment buildings, frats, sororities," Novotny said.
The city has six inspectors scouring campus and looking for loose garbage and overflowing Dumpsters. If they find a violation, they could notify the property owner that the problem must be taken care of within 48 hours.
If the garbage remains loose after the 2-day window, the city will clear the trash and bill the owner the cost of labor, dumping fees and an additional $100 administrative fee.
Novotny said the city issues anywhere between five and 15 notices during an average move-out period, but the situation seems to have gotten better in the past few years.
Similar problems exist across Wright Street in Urbana, said Jason Arrasmith, the city's environmental compliance officer. A lot of campus apartments are on South Lincoln Avenue.
"Everything right in that area is pretty much where we end up with our problems," Arrasmith said.
Urbana has a notification process identical to that of Champaign's: If it is not cleared within 48 hours, the city will haul the trash and bill the property owner for labor.
Depending on the size of the violation, "you're probably looking at $200 or $300 to get rid of the garbage plus the fines and fees."
And it's not just move-out week, Arrasmith said. The problem exists twice a year.
"This time of year, it's usually more garbage," Arrasmith said. "The big items (like trashed furniture) usually come out in the fall," when students are moving in for the school year.
Arrasmith said his enforcement will largely begin next week. The student exodus is expected to peak this weekend after final exams wrapped up on Friday.