Trash Removal Fees Lowered for Annapolis

City Council voted unanimously Monday to lower trash bills by $46 annually for fiscal year 2013.

Annapolis residents will pay $46 less for trash collection services than they did in fiscal year 2012 thanks to a unanimous vote by  on Monday night.

The refund comes in large part due to the privatization of the city's solid-waste removal services, which was passed as part of the fiscal year 2013 budget in June and takes effect Sept. 1.

"We are being a little bit guarded," said Bruce Miller, the city's director of finance.

He said he anticipates the cost to the city from Bates Trucking and Trash Removal, which will handle services going forward, will allow Annapolis to reduce consumer fees even more. But he wants to wait until the bills start coming in.

He said there could still be some adjustments made to service once operations start.

City Manager Mike Mallinoff seconded the two-part drop in fees.

"With this service starting at or around the beginning of the second quarter, we thought it would be prudent to wait a year and see what the costs come in at," Mallinoff said.

Alderman Fred Paone (R-2nd Ward) said he didn't want to wait and see. He proposed an amendment to lower the fee an additional $30 from the current $426 to $350.

He said the reduction in trash pickup to once a week represents a 50 percent cut in service, while the reduction in cost totals less than 15 percent of a resident’s bill.

"All I’ve heard from my constituents is that we are having a huge reduction in service," Paone said. "I think it would mean a lot more to city taxpayers."

"Candidly, I don’t know that this is a good move," Mallinoff said. "We should wait this out and see if there are any adjustments to the plan. What I would hate to do is come back and ask for increases."

Alderman Ian Pfeiffer (D-7th Ward) agreed with Mallinoff.

"I’m sympathetic to my friend from Ward 2's views," Pfeiffer said. "It would be nice to able to say we are giving you a little bit more."

The amendment failed 7-2 with only Paone and Alderman Mathew Silverman (D-5th Ward) supporting it.

Pfeiffer said the debate was about how much money to decrease fees rather than raise them, and said, "I think that’s an important moment we are at here."

Jane Shepard July 11, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Mike, you are correct. We are getting half the service for 11% drop in cost. We have lost 39% of return on the money paid for trash removal. I can manage with once-a-week pickup, but it will create a lot of problems for people with large families and little storage. We will see an increase in the number or rodents and other foraging animals.
Mike July 11, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Chris Lauer, so, by your math, we could have cut trash removal to once-a-year and you'd be happy with saving 11% on it, because, after all, "you are going to pay less." Further, you are neglecting to address the cuts to bulk trash and leaf removal. Your claim of "almost no problems" is patently absurd on its face. This very Patch site has been chock full of complaints about how once-a-week IS a problem. Further, I contend we aren't even going to be paying less. If the city council is (as has been reported multiple times) sitting around ARGUING and VOTING on what the line-item charge for waste removal will be, that means the amount we pay as a line item IS NOT the true cost of trash removal, and IS instead just a number that the council invents. Which means either: 1. trash removal costs less than what they're charging us on the bill, and some of the money collected for it is being siphoned off to other things, OR 2. trash removal costs more than what they're charging us on the bill, and the rest is hidden in other city taxes that we pay. In either case it's wrong for the city to misrepresent the true costs. And it certainly seems like #1 is more likely with the new contract. Last, it WON'T be CHEAPER for anyone. This LINE ITEM goes down 11%, but the TOTAL bill goes up. Even if the cost of contracted trash removal is 11% lower, we pay more unless the city lays off all its city-employee trash collectors and sells off the infrastructure...not happening.
Mike July 11, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Anna, you wrote: "I understand your point about the costs. The reason I chose the headline is because Annapolis residents will pay less for trash this year than they did last year. Yes, they will also be getting less services. The question about whether the cuts in costs justify the cuts in service is one for the community (not the reporter) to decide." While it is ultimately up to the communitity to decide if the cost "cuts" justify the service cuts, you have ignored the service cuts from the headline. In a good news/bad news tradeoff, your headline is only the good news. One doesn't report that LBJ was sworn in while failing to note that JFK was shot. Proper journalism means getting past the press releases and investigating the whole truth. Which means being a skeptic, not simply announcing what the pols spin, but getting to the bottom of things. If we have a bunch of CITY EMPLOYEES (plus TRUCKS and FACILITIES) who collect the trash now, we pay their salaries, benefits, pensions and so on. And we pay for all the infrastructure. What is happening to THEM? If they're not all being laid off and sold off, we STILL have to pay all those costs ON TOP OF the new trash contract with the private company. THAT'S NOT A DROP IN COSTS. IT'S a tax increase shell game. Journalism means showing the true, big picture. Clearly and comprehensively. All due respect Anna, but Josh Cohen himself couldn't have written this headline better to suit his own ends.
Mike July 11, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Anna, on the subject of the blog post invitation. Thanks for the offer, perhaps I will. But regardless of whether I do, my point about this piece (and others) still stands. I have OPINIONS about whether the cost and service changes are justified. But the facts are facts, and they are not matters of opinion. The pure journalism side of this means getting the facts out CLEARLY and COMPREHENSIVELY. As a journalist, that's what you're supposed to be providing. Many elements are undeniably part of the big picture: -The trash pickup are being cut in half. -Leaf removal is being cut. -Bulk trash removal is being cut. -The ALLEGED savings is only claimed to be 11%, and the council itself doesn't even agree that it's going to be realized. -The trash collection is being contracted out to a private company. -The city employees who collected the trash are going...WHERE? Are they being let go, so we actually get the "savings"? -If not, there is no cost savings. So, to assess this, one must find out what happens to those employees, and to their pay and benefits. -And one must figure out what happens to the trucks, buildings, and other infrastructure owned or leased by the city. -And so on. WEIGHING these costs/benefits is a matter of opinion. But knowing ALL the potentially relevant facts is required to do so. Reporting on only a few pieces in separate stories (and skipping the rest of the facts) is NOT COMPREHENSIVE and NOT CLEAR.
Marina July 31, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Can someone clarify how the Refuse fees are calculated? by house ? by Sqf?


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