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Jason Molino's response to Thomas Houseknecht

By Howard B. Owens

City Manager Jason Molino sent a copy of this letter, addressed to Thomas Houseknecht, to members of the local media:

Mr. Houseknecht-

You have asked for responses to your comments over the past several weeks regarding the proposed refuse and recycling program. Attached are my responses to your questions. 

I understand your concern over the impact the proposed program may have on the those who can least afford it. While I share the same concern, I disagree with your analysis that lower assessed properties properly represents, or in any form correlates, to those who can least afford it. For example the average assessed single family home in the city is $92,112, while the average assessed two-family home is $76,534 and the average assessed triple-family home is $84,380. According to a recent EPA study, multi-family properties that have more than one household generate 1.5 times or more refuse (depending on the number of units) than a single-family property. In addition, the study states recycling tonnage per household is 65 percent greater for single-family households than for multi-family households. Considering doubles and triples generate from 1.5 to 3 times the amount of garbage as a single-family home, recycle significantly less and the property owners pay less in taxes, the current system is inequitable as we pay for garbage based on the amount of assessed value of our homes with no relationship to how much we throw out, don’t throw out, recycle or don’t recycle.

The proposed refuse fee does not target any one type of resident or property owner; instead it is intended to provide an equitable way to pay for a service based on a rational relationship between the cost of the service and the amount of service each resident uses. Similar to water, sewer, cable, electric, gas, phone and all other utilities, assessed value is not a determinant of the cost of the service, nor does it properly represent the amount of service used by individual property owners or residents.  Furthermore assessed value is not a valid method for determining the cost of refuse and recycling collection to residents.

I appreciate your passion for the refuse collection issue in Batavia and in particular for your support of ARC and its endeavors. I welcome the opportunity to sit down with you and my staff to review the numbers and understand how you arrived at some of the assumptions made in your statements to city council. Dialoging with you would certainly help us understand how we might better communicate our intentions and goals for the city as it relates to refuse collection both now and in the future.  


Jason Molino

UPDATE: I failed to take note of four attachments with Jason Molino's e-mail.  Here they are (all links are to PDFs):

Jeffrey Houseknecht

Molino has been trying to dump the arc for years,he can come up with any explanation he wants but I think he has a hardon for someone

Feb 20, 2013, 6:03pm Permalink
Michael Pullinzi

"Recent EPA study" with no citation or where the study was done? Then builds his whole argument on what obviously is a flawed citation? Trash pick-up is not a utility, it is a service. Like most Government services some will use more than others at times and while you may never use a service like Police, it is a community service there to benefit all. Some do not use our Parks, Schools, Skate arena, splash pools, drive cars to use City Streets, call Police, etc. etc. etc., but the facilities and services are there for all whether you use them or not and we are all sharing the costs and all benefit from these services in our Community despite how much we use them. Without trash pick-up it would be a problem for all so rather than rely on individuals, the City chose years ago to provide trash service. By Mr. Molino's logic, if one goes on vacation they shouldn't be paying for trash pick-up that week. That isn't true for Government provided services any more than it would be for private hired trash service. There are plenty of double homes that, in reality, generate far less trash than a single family home. A house with two apartments occupied by one person each obviously would not generate anywhere near what a single family house with family and three kids would generate. A single family home with an elderly couple would also not likely generate anywhere near the trash of a home with a family. Most homes are overwhelming much larger than most apartments and likely have more occupants and generate more trash. Perhaps we should start charging for all services by the number of occupants at a property if anyone really wants to be totally fair? And if you have guests or a Birthday party there should be a fee? That is the logic of proponents of such "fairness" concerns. Over generalizations and assumptions seem rampant in Mr. Molino's response and I do believe Tom Houseknecht hit the nail on the head when he pointed out Mr. Molino's ulterior motives in putting forth these ill planned changes to try and by-pass the NYS property tax increase cap law as well as burning ARC. The whole process is a mess without initial public input and then a rush to bidding with a whole set of new reguirements and mandates. Such drastic changes surely deserved more public input and comment and a "Citizens panel" seeking such input from the community as a whole. The only true "fair" system would indeed be a pay per bag system as then strictly no one pays for anything more than what they use and all are motivated to conserve and recycle, however, this has been repeatedly shot down in the past in favor of our current system as trash service has been wisely recognized as a public service necessity with a whole host of adverse effects if even a small number do not comply. So the greater good of the community outweighs the total fairness some are clamoring for. Much like Police service, if you don't ever use it, it is there and serving the community and we all recognize the need with no one being charged per their individual use. Personally, I agree with former Council President Paul Wise that the current plan is a well thoughtout Community based system. I am willing to pay more for the system we have with ARC and with bringing trash bags to the curb without the mandatory totes that really only will accomplish eliminating ARC from having a successful bid due to the large costs of the required equipment. The totes are also a totally unnecessary burden for every citizen that will create more problems than they cure. The current system is serving the City well in providing trash removal and is limited so that no one is able to put out above the per property bag limit. When you need the full limit, it is there for all. When you don't need the full limit, the community is glad that those that did need the limit that week had the trash removed so it is not sitting drawing rats and other problems.

Feb 21, 2013, 7:48am Permalink
Jim Rosenbeck

Dear Jason,
Just get out of the garbage business and announce a big tax cut. Let people contract with the trash removal provider of their choice. I will go with ARC. You can go with who ever you choose. What is so difficult about this solution? The only reason to continue fighting the people who pay your salary is to win a battle. But, you pay a cost in the long run. Just get out of garbage business all together and declare victory. You did good things with privatizing the ambulance service and helping this city recover from near financial disaster. Don't let this issue be your legacy. This is not the battle to fight. You have smarter alternatives. Give people a choice and they will admire you. Impose your will upon people and you become the villain.

Feb 20, 2013, 7:58pm Permalink
Dave Meyer and I are like minded.
Interesting tack to take with the argument, but I think you're right.

If the city (council) would just decide to get out of the trash business I believe most people would reasonable people would view that as a good thing.

I don't know what's to be accomplished by a public response to Tom Houseknect.

Feb 20, 2013, 8:09pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

First, I didn't notice the four attachments on Jason's e-mail. I've posted links to them above.

Second, one thing I think is possible is that city council could amend the proposed waste management to allow an opt-out/pick your own vendor option and then the council could reject all bids.

Feb 20, 2013, 8:32pm Permalink

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