Trash fee issues keep piling up in Albany

November 01, 2016 11:56 PM

ALBANY – For decades, one of the appeals of living in Albany has been free trash pick-up. You put it out, they pick it up. But no longer for everyone.

There are some exceptions but the city wants to keep its new trash fee in the budget and it continues to be a bone of contention for the council where the issues keep piling-up.

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The trash fee now appears to have three choices: keep it as is – proposed fees to be charged for curbside collection $180/unit per year, except it won’t apply to the first unit of a dwelling; second, repeal it and find $1.5 million in the budget elsewhere; third, spread it over a larger base of homes.

Single Family $0
2-Unit $180
3-Unit $360
4-Unit $540

"So it brings the cost down to those who are currently getting it but also provides that it's a more equitable funding base to provide that bridge,” said Richard Conti, President Pro-Tempore of Albany Common Council.

"A flat fee is an unfair fee particular with our low income earners whether they're renters or homeowners in single-family homes," said Councilman Judd Krasher, Ward 11. Someone "could put out virtually no garbage, minimal garbage but yet there still going to pay the same amount, whatever ends up being the fee, it's a flat fee."

Krasher wants it repealed altogether but Conti says keep it where it is in the short-term. The Council President says the fee negatively targets low income people and the council has been told by landlords that the cost is passed onto renters.

"Something is going to be different it could be better than what we're seeing here today but everyone will see a difference in 2019. And we just need to prepare people for that,” said Carolyn McLaughlin, Council President.
Mayor Kathy Sheehan's position is to maintain the fee as is for now but Council members say it will eventually be pay-as-you-throw.

Krasher: "What we can't afford is continue to go down this path of inequity and continue to put outrageous burdens on our property taxpayers..."What I think the repeal does if we were to act on it this year is light a fire under the administration to act faster in implementing pay as you throw."

Conti: "We can't piecemeal it and pull little pieces out here or there, we have to see how this fits into the larger picture."

McLaughlin: "If we spread it out to the total city I don't know if people are going to say OK I'm happy to share the pain. That's what it would be, sharing the pain."

There's another part to this – the landfill. DGS officials say they've extended the life of the Rapp Rd. landfill to 2023. They did it by increasing fees which will take in less trash.

"Where did the $1.5 million gap come from?" asked McLaughlin. "I think the number was pulled out of the air. We called it a magic number, that's really what it was. A magic number."


John Craig

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