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City Collects Money for Garbage

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City move results in no savings to Citizens
Waste Management increases bill

 Coral Springs 08/31/02

“Good News” says Michael Levinson, the City Manager in a recent letter to the citizens of our city, ” We are now in the Garbage Business!”.

This is in response to a recent resolution 2001-057 passed by our city commissioners forcing all of us to pay for garbage in our yearly Tax bill  rather than paying the garbage collector, Waste Management, on a quarterly basis. The City has decided to act as the bill collector for the garbage company! 

By law, every residential property owner must sign a contract with Waste Management for the removal of trash from their property and pay them on a monthly basis for the service.  However, even though there is a law that forces residential property owners to sign an agreement with Waste Management, many have not. Sometimes this results in trash piling up, or the sneaky neighbor piling their trash on someone else property who has collection services. Obviously the City Manager and commissioners feel this is a very important problem within our city that they had to devote the city manager’s time, his staff, a committee or two I am sure, and the cost of printing a letter to send to every citizen. Now, with these letters, they have just increase the garbage in our city by another 120,000 pieces of paper.

According to our officials a special assessment for solid waste collection will ensure that the residential areas are continuously provided service. Currently  Waste Management directly bills each customer. When the customer doesn’t pay , they stop the collection of garbage and notifies the city. With the use of the special assessment neither Waste Management or the  City will be required to collect the funds on an monthly basis, and cancel when not paid.  In addition, the special assessment would  eliminate the need for Waste Management  to utilize a collection service for delinquent customers.  The use of the special assessment would also eliminate the need for  code enforcement to coordinate with the Waste Management  and ticket and fine  residential properties that have not paid their bill or residential properties that have failed to contract for garbage service.

Starting 2003, every residential property owner will pay along with their other taxes an additional $199.92.   They will have the option of paying it early and receiving the same 4% reduction that they get with the early payment of taxes every November.  This is heralded by our city manager as a big savings. In fact, early payment of a bill isn’t a true savings but a right of reduction for early payment. A true savings would be to remove the 4% off the bill to start off with. How about paying the bill when it is due and saving 4%?

At the time of passing of this resolution  the city indicated that our garbage bill should go down, due to the fact that Waste Management will reduce their 50,000+ bills to one: The City of Coral Springs.  They always pay their bills.  This savings in paperwork and staffing for Waste Management has not resulted in the reduction in the cost of trash removal.  In fact, the bill will go up by almost $2.76!  It was supposed to be $197.16.  This is obviously a sign of more increases to come. By the way….the city manager forgot to mention this in his letter.

Waste Management has a franchise agreement guaranteeing that  they are the only garbage collector in our city. For this exclusivity they pay to the city 12% of their total revenue. Now it appears that we are paying this 12% franchise fee since the city is collecting the money from us through the new assessment.  Since we are paying this amount in our taxes,  the city might be in a precarious position of not declaring the revenue as a tax, in effect by-passing its citizens to vote on the creation of a new tax. These hidden taxes give the city the right to increase the franchise fees instead of raising taxes. Raising taxes is not popular and is always out in the open. Raising Franchise fees is a sneaky way for the City Manager to get more money from the taxpayers. ( see our earlier article on Franchise Fees: taxes in Disguise click here)

In his letter, the City Manager  also tells us that we are entitled to side door pickup. This is something the government negotiated many moons ago to justify to us the benefits of making Waste Management the only trash collector. Side door pickup means that Waste Management must pickup two 32 gallon trash containers from the side of your home and that you never have to bring them to the front of your driveway.  What it really means is constantly calling Waste Management when they do not do collect the trash from the side door. It means that the trash piles up until finally you bring it to the front of your driveway anyways. This ‘Benefit’ I have found to be useless and should have been negotiated away to reduce the cost of our trash service.  Don’t believe me? Try it out. Leave your trash container beside you house and see for yourself. Remember, nothing in life is automatic!

This attack by the government on our garbage is uncalled for. The problem here is that the city commissioners and city manager seem to focus their attention on all of the smaller issues in this city instead of the bigger ones.  No one asked the city to go into the garbage business. But there are plenty of us who want the city to go into the business of running the city. Many might believe that the two are interrelated. The way they are running the city might just as well be garbage collection.

Waste Management is the big winner here. They now have the government involved on their bill collecting without having to lower their prices. The City is the big loser here as they now have to administer another level of taxation .  Waste Management will continue to collect the garbage as the City of Coral Springs continue to collect our money, and the city manager and commissioners will still tell us how they are doing us all a favor.   Garbage In…Garbage Out. 

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