Sold Waste Fee revisited: No change
Story by Dan Hust
MONTICELLO November 19, 2013 If you paid the Sullivan County solid waste fee on your tax bill in 2013, expect no changes in 2014.
Despite the months-long efforts of a task force resurrected to more “fairly” distribute the costs of the county’s solid waste system, legislators on Thursday preliminarily voted to keep the existing fee structure.
“We’re sticking with what we’ve got,” Legislator Cora Edwards affirmed.
“For now,” added Legislator Cindy Gieger.
She was hinting at the fact that many are still dissatisfied with the fairness of the fee. So change may be coming in 2015.
“If you want to have a larger discussion, we can have that next month,” said Legislator Jonathan Rouis, chair of the Management and Budget Committee.
The vote came during that committee meeting and will be followed by an official full Legislature vote this coming Thursday.
It’s expected to pass there, too, as the five committee members representing a majority of the nine legislators gave their unanimous assent.
The per-parcel fees are:
• $120 for residences and municipal/nonprofit buildings
• $108 for residences with enhanced STAR or Aged Exemption
• $120 per commercial residential unit (i.e., condos and mobile home parks) up to 15 units, capped at $1,800 per parcel
• $300 for businesses
The task force last month had recommended the Legislature switch to an ad valorem system, which would remove tax-exempts from paying but would include taxable vacant land that currently is not assessed the fee.
But according to Legislator Kathy LaBuda, who headed the task force, her colleagues’ recent vote to not exceed the state-mandated two-percent tax increase cap has made the task force’s recommendation unworkable.
The decision not to override the tax cap means legislators need to cut $800,000 from the proposed 2014 budget. The ad valorem recommendation would have added $2 million instead, said LaBuda, hiking property owners’ taxes past the state cap.
“It’s off the table for this year,” she affirmed.
Legislators, however, are targeting the tipping fee, which is what haulers pay when they dump trash at the county’s transfer stations.
They may decide to raise the $90-per-ton fee to $95 at the December full Legislature meeting, to go into effect in January.
Public Works Commissioner Ed McAndrew said the raise will cover increased contractual costs (especially fuel) with the company which currently takes the county’s waste to an upstate landfill.
He added, however, that the per-bag tipping fees which most residents pay if they go directly to the transfer station rather than use a hauling company will not change.