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March 26, 2013 - 10:18am

It's Official: Starting June 1, city residents will need to make their own arrangements for trash removal

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, garbage collection.
Kris Doeringer
Tim Buckley

Calling it the best solution possible, the Batavia City Council voted Monday night to remove garbage collection from the tax roles, remove city responsibility for garbage collection from the municipal code, and tell residents they're now on their own for getting rid of their trash.

Letters from the city to all property owners will go out within a week or so outlining the new rules for city residents and providing them with a list of vendors for trash collection.

Starting June 1, residents will contract with their own hauler  -- or haul it themselves -- and pay their own bills.

"This will make it fair for everyone," said Councilman Kris Doeringer. "It was not fair that some people were paying more than others based on the assessment rather than on the amount of trash they produced. It was just as unfair that businesses had to pay for a service that they were not even using and others did not pay anything at all."

The trash issue has been broiling in Batavia since late last year when city staff revealed a plan to change the municipal code to require an automated tote-based system for garbage collection and open up the refuse and recycling contract to competitive bidding.

For 28 years, Genesee ARC had provided garbage collection in the city, but after ARC was the highest bidder on the new proposed contract, ARC's supporters flooded council chambers through multiple meetings demanding the proposed changes be rejected.

And they were, but council members were still unwilling to give up the double-digit decrease in the tax rate from dropping garbage collection as a city service.

Many ARC supports said, "if it's not broken, don't fix it," but council members, such as Doeringer, said the old system was broken and it needed to be fixed.

Council President Tim Buckley also said the old system was unfair.

"The process now is fair," Buckley said. "I spoke to a widow who lives on the Northeast side of town. She's called me a couple of times. Her assessment is up there and she puts out one bag of garbage every week. She said, 'I go by every week and I see houses with five or 10 bags out.' She said, 'why do I have to pay for that?' It's not fair for her. OK, now it's fair for her."

Doeringer, as did Councilman Pierluigi Cipollone, made it clear they thought the proposed garbage collection plan brought forth by City Manager Jason Molino was pretty good.

"The residents would have received a needed service at a reasonable cost," Cipollone said. "The city would have realized a $1.2 million savings over five years. The city could have used those funds for providing other needed services."

Cipollone cast the lone dissenting vote to change the system to an open market.

While Doeringer believes getting the city out of the garbage business both accomplishes the council's goal to reduce city expenses and is responsive to his constituents' wishes, he regrets the new system won't do much to encourage recycling.

"I was shocked to realize people didn't want a better recycling system," Doeringer said. "They didn't want a system that's more efficient and would help the environment. They didn't want a system that helps clean up the streets from the many animals getting into the garbage, and most surprising, they didn't want a system that would cost less, now and in the future."

Doeringer, Buckley, Patti Pacino, John Canale and Jim Russell all left the door open for revisiting the trash issue for the 2014-15 budget.

"I will personally monitor the system," Canale said. "I will look at what the effect is going to be and if it proves not to be effective in my opinion, then I will personally spearhead an effort to propose a new system that is fair and effective for everyone."

Mark Potwora
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This seems to me to be a good step in the right direction to make Batavia in better position to attract new business to this city.Tim Buckley showed great leadership in leading council in this direction..I don't think any on council took this vote lightly..For those who say different explain what did any on council have to gain ..They did do the fair thing for all ... ARC management will have to step up to the challenge and be the lowest cost and not the highest... It would be nice if a private trash contractor could find a spot in the city to set up a transfer station for those who only have one bag a trash a week..

Jeremiah Pedro
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I agree that using property taxes to pay for trash collection is a biased method. However; there are many municipalities that are able to provide trash collection and pass that cost onto the residents in the same way that water bills are paid for by the residents in many cities. Making the trash collection contracting the responsibility of the individual resident is going to expose another set of issues. Only time will tell if this decision is a flawed one or a deeply flawed one.

Robert Tretter
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I hope it won't happen but watch the trash being dumped in the city behind businesses and other secluded areas. Also there will be plenty dropped off on the side roads of the Town and other area communities.

Michael Pullinzi
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Everyone pays more for all services based on their assessments. Discussion singling out trash is just dumb. The cited example of someone complaining because someone put out five bags when they only put out one is petty and short-sighted. Do they really think this self-serve system is going to save them money and do they really believe Council will not use removal of trash from the City budget to jack up expendutures in other areas costing them even more money? I don't have any kids in school yet I pay school taxes based on my assessment, I don't use the skate arena yet I pay for that, etc. etc. etc., We might not even use various services at all yet we all pay for them in our assessed property taxes. The basis for property taxes is community minded not one of paying for a service based on the level of use of that service. Once this fiasco flops and rats run in the streets perhaps some will expand their thinking to voting on what is good for the community rather than what MIGHT save them a few dollars. The reality is increased costs for all.

John Roach
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The price of equity is that some might pay more, some will pay less and some, like businesses, will not have to pay twice.

Garbage is not like police and fire protection. There are viable alternatives to trash pick up, including if you are able, taking the stuff yourself to a drop off point at really very little cost. There will be competition for your money. You can even go in with a neighbor and split cost if that works for you.

There are no practical alternatives at this time for police and fire protection. You can not contract those services on your own. The same with a DPW.

Jim Rosenbeck
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Whether it be at the local, state or federal level, the only hope we have to save ourselves from fiscal Armageddon is to begin thinking smaller government and personal responsibility. We have been spoiled by a government that has trained us to be dependent on it. Dare to believe in our own ability to dispose of our trash.

Michael Pullinzi
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Trash disposal is indeed a public safety service and indeed is comparable to other City Services and is why it has been included with such services for all these years. It is also included in almost every City's services Statewide. Self disposal will cost you far more. The two nearby transfer stations in Riga and Stafford have a $2 per bag disposable fee. For two bags per week that would be over $200 which is more than you have been paying plus you still have to drive it there. At $4 per gallon, your time, and having to put bags of trash in your car trunk, it will be far more expensive than the current City wide plan. That's not environmentally wise, community wise, or wise on any level. The smart plan is to use good planning and not short-sightedness. With the trash out of the budget the City is free to raise our taxes beyond the current 2% cap and you can bet it will do so. Then we will be paying higher for trash removal that has been removed from the budget and be paying higher property taxes too.

Jason Post
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And yet, most everyone who lives beyond the borders of the cities seems to be able to figure out how to get their trash off their property without resorting to dumping it off a cliff or dropping it in their neighbors yard. At least for this year, the City has already knocked back the taxes and the budget to reflect the reduced amount of trash service. If they want to jump the taxes back up again, they'll need to do it bit by bit. Unless I misunderstand the cap, now that the tax rate has been downscaled, future increases are judged against this years budget, rather than previous years when there was trash.

As for people paying higher for trash removal, that does seem quite likely to me as well.

Mark Potwora
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The city can override the tax cap any time they want to do..They just need a super majority....I don't get your point on the cap...How will they raise taxes over the 2% cap amount with out a super majority..Why would they do it..Why don't other towns include trash pick up in their property tax if it is such a good idea..

Jason Crater
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Have any of the possible vendors provided any price information yet?

Howard B. Owens
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No.

Kevin Cochran
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Taken from article. "Starting June 1, residents will contract with their own hauler -- or haul it themselves -- and pay their own bills. "

Did we not pay before?

Howard B. Owens
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Did you receive a bill?

Peter O'Brien
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Howard,
Do you know which representative voted which way?

Howard B. Owens
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From the story: "Cipollone cast the lone dissenting vote to change the system to an open market."

Kevin Cochran
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Yes Howard, It's called taxes.

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