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'Please excuse Mr. Smith from taking out the trash'

Raleigh officials might soon require a doctor's note from people who ask trash crews to pick up their garbage cans in the back yard.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Raleigh officials might soon require a doctor's note from people who say they are too infirm to take their garbage cans to the curb for weekly trash collection.

The city's Need Assistance Program is open to all disabled residents or anyone 65 and older. Anyone who wants to take advantage of the program calls a number to get his or her name on a list, and city workers will go into his or her back yard on trash collection day to get the garbage.

The problem is that city officials think some people are truly taking advantage of the program.

"There's no verification for that process. It's simply an honor system," City Manager Russell Allen said.

Allen notes that about 4,700 of the 110,540 Raleigh households are on the assistance list, compared with about 2,000 in Charlotte, which requires verification from its 203,524 customers that someone cannot physically carry the trash to the curb for pick-up.

Requiring verification to participate in the Need Assistance Program could save Raleigh about $450,000 a year, Allen said. The City Council is expected to discuss the proposal on Thursday.

Some local residents said they think the city should keep things how they are.

"They should go in the back for (people) because sometimes those trash cans are real heavy," Billy Ferrell said.

Eleanor Hallem said her son usually puts out her trash on Thursday nights for her Friday pick-up, but she said she wouldn't mind getting a doctor's note in the future to get crews to collect the garbage from her back yard if her son isn't around.

"With the economy, you don't want the city to spend more money then they need to if it's not necessary," Hallem said.


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