BATAVIA – The City Council will have to vote next Monday on a $23 million budget that has been delayed by weeks of controversy over garbage collection and who will do it – a company working for the city or private firms that residents would hire on an individual basis. The fiscal year ends March 31.
A public hearing was held last month on changes in the city’s solid-waste code. It would effectively erase a provision on new wheeled tote receptacles. That dispute delayed adoption of the spending plan last month.
The changes would end the city’s role in garbage collection for the first time and halt Genesee ARC’s weekly pickups, which have taken place for nearly three decades.
A revised $23 million budget for the fiscal year beginning April 1 was the subject of a second hearing before another large crowd that was more concerned with who is going to pick up the garbage every week. The city’s spending plan was then amended to include a two-month extension of ARC’s contract. As of June 1, city residents will be on their own for getting rid of garbage.
The amended budget cuts the tax rate from $10.71 to $9.30 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. A typical residence would save about $115 per year. However, that is one-third of the possible trash pickup cost that until now had been included in city tax bills.
The budget had to be amended when the Council extended ARC’s contract for two months until May 31. The cost of nearly $200,000 had to be added and the proposed tax rate changed from the original $8.95 per $1,000.
Genesee ARC says it’s still interested in working the streets weekly for a service its developmentally disabled workers have provided. It – and likely other vendors – would contract with individual property owners. Public protests over the ending of ARC’s service would indicate the nonprofit agency would get most of the business.
The Council for the first time put the service up for bid, and Allied Waste Services of Lancaster was the lowest bidder.
Also envisioned was a new system of using wheeled totes for separate trash and recyclables collections. Both of these plans were effectively eliminated by a Council vote of 7-2.
The new budget includes a roughly 3 percent hike in water rates. Council members would get pay increases: the president would get a $2,800 boost to $4,900, while members’ pay would rise $1,500 to $3,500. The pay hikes stayed in the budget on a 5-4 vote.