By Nathan Mayberg
LIBERTY May 30, 2006 Amidst a hostile public, the Village of Liberty Board unanimously set new sanitation fees at the same rate proposed one week earlier under similar conditions.
Under the new fee schedule, single-family residences would pay $240 annually for garbage pick-up. Seasonal residents would pay $120, while small commercial businesses would be charged $500 a year. The biggest impact would be to the owners of Dumpsters, who would have to pay $1,200 for each one.
Previously, residents paid for sanitation as part of their overall tax bill.
Many new faces were at Wednesday nights meeting, while some of the same owners of multi-family residences were in attendance to voice their displeasure.
Jim Gordon continued to state that the multi-family units he and his family own will be charged 40-50 percent more for their sanitation use due to the new law.
Some wanted to know why they couldnt just dump the trash themselves or hire another hauler to do so. Mayor Rube Smith countered by stating the village had lower rates than the other villages in the county. Village Attorney Gary Silver said that the villages fee was also lower than the Town of Fallsburg.
In addition, Smith said the new law will finally make business owners, landlords and other heavy garbage users pay their fair share. Under the previous system, the average single-family residence was paying an equal amount for waste disposal as the owner of a few Dumpsters, said Smith.
There was a large amount of discontent with the new fee, but Smith said it was necessary in order to require all residents and businesses to pay for garbage pick-up, particularly not-for-profit institutions.
Some said that residents should be charged based on the amount of garbage they throw out, but Silver said that wasnt feasible.
If recycling continues to grow, stated the mayor, sanitation fees could actually come down. The village has pushed a bold recycling program, which is the most successful in the county.
The proposed budget in the village would actually decrease the tax rate by about 6.5 percent, according to village officials. The overall tax levy would drop 3.78 percent, while fees would drop 9.6 percent before the $544,584 sanitation budget is calculated.
Village Trustee Joan Stoddard estimated that the average owner of a home assessed at $100,000 would save $168 on their tax bill (before the sanitation fee is assessed).
Trustee Allan Berube said the fee schedule should be altered. The late payment fee after one month is 10 percent, which is higher than the 5 percent late fee charged for late tax payments. But since the law has already been passed, such a change will have to wait one year.
Berube also suggested semi-annual payments for the sanitation fee, but that too will have to wait. Trustee Thomas Sprague and Village Clerk Judy Zurawski both said such a fee could create more work for the office. Smith said such a fee schedule could be looked into for next year.
In other business, Trustee Anita Parkhurst pushed to extend the terms of trustees from two years to four years. According to Silver, such a law couldnt take place until the next term of office. Such a new law could be subject to a public referendum if petitions were brought. He also suggested a public meeting to gather input from local residents. Sprague said such a proposal should also be heavily advertised. Smith said it would be considered.
Attorney Jay Zaiger won a resolution from the board offering conditional approval to accept the dedication of Central View Street, behind Liberty High School.
Zaiger is representing a developer who has proposed two four-story, 12-unit buildings on 6 acres behind the school. The developer is looking to subdivide the property. He would have to meet village specifications for improving the road before he can dedicate it to the village.
He is currently in front of the Village of Liberty Planning Board with his plans.