The Niagara Falls City Council voted Wednesday night to update, but not raise, the city’s current trash and recycling user fees.
The action comes after an evening hearing and a recommendation from city controller Daniel Morello to maintain the current $181 annual fee.
Council chairman John Spanbauer and members Tracy Bucks and David Zajak voted to keep the fees, but council member Donta Miles called it a “money grab”. opposed to action.
Referring to former mayor Paul Deister, who first proposed a fee to fill the $4 million gap in the city’s 2019 budget, Miles said, “I am totally against the previous administration’s fee. I did,” he said. “I thought it was a money grab. They were threatening to fire the police and firefighters.”
Dyster had proposed a solid waste disposal user fee of $218 a year that year, but the council cut that plan to $181 a year or just over $15 a month. Since then, the fees charged to property owners have been reapproved annually as part of the city’s budget approval process.
By law, the council is required to review the amount of royalties annually.
In 2021, former city councilor Frank Soda proposed a rate increase because he could no longer cover the cost of the city’s garbage and recycling collection contract with Modern Disposal. We refused and the fees were never increased beyond the original estimate.
“I’m glad you’re not thinking about raising it,” Miles told his council colleague. “
By law, fees cannot increase by more than 3.5%t annually during the City’s current contract with Modern.
As part of the escalator clause in the deal with Modern, the city’s garage collection costs increased by approximately $400,000 in 2022. As a result, the city will pay Modern $4.4 million in 2022.
Mayor Robert Restino said the garbage fee was “not originally introduced” as a collection fee. The mayor also noted that fees are based on the number of trash and recycling totes assigned to the property, rather than directly on the cost of the Modern Contract.
At the hearing on fees, many city dwellers had harsh words for it and Modern’s collecting efforts.
“We pay for something and we get very bad service,” says Susan Ford. “They (Modern) get what they want to get, and we don’t get what we pay for.”
Gwendolyn Streeter-Walker told the council that fares should be structured to offer discounts to senior citizens.
“It’s good to know that we’re not raising user fees,” Streeter-Walker said. “But I think we should get rid of user fees.”