Trash Collection Fees To Jump After Divided Vote

Fees will increase by 9 percent next year in Lower Merion, except for rear yard collection fees, which will see no increase.

Commissioners on Wednesday night were divided on an ordinance that would raise trash and recycling collection fees by 9 percent for 2013, but the board ultimately approved the rate hike, with five commissioners at the meeting voting against it.

The 9 percent increase will apply to the base fee for collection, the per-container fee and mini-can fee, but will not increase the cost for rear-yard collection, following an amendment that was proposed and passed during discussion Wednesday evening.

Lower Merion's system for garbage and recycling collection was revised in 2010 with the intention that collection fees and the reselling of recyclables would pay for the program entirely, said Chief Financial Officer Dean Dortone.

However, the going rate for recycled paper has dropped and the cost of disposing of commingled recyclables has skyrocketed, Dortone said in a previous presentation, stating that the township looks to lose $200,000 this year on garbage and recycling collection. Dortone told commissioners that a fee hike was necessary for the program to continue to pay for itself. A 9 percent increase would produce an additional $500,000 in revenue for the program.

In the course of discussion, it was proposed that other rates increase 9 percent, but rear-yard trash collection fees remain stable.

Commissioner Daniel Bernheim noted that even with the additional 9 percent increase, Lower Merion trash collection fees are still within the realm of normal. Plus, rear collection is a Lower Merion tradition, and because of the positioning of some homes, rear yard pickup is the only realistic option, so such homes should not be unduly penalized.

Commissioner Brian Gordon agreed, stating that rear-yard pickup preserves the look of the township.

Commissioners Lew Gould, Steve Lindner, Paul McElhaney, Philip Rosenzweig and Scott Zelov voted against the ordinance.

Referencing the $6.9 million in unanticipated revenue the township received last year, Gould said the township should not be raising fees to produce an additional $500,000 in revenue for trash collection.

Gould, McElhaney and Zelov viewed the increased fees for curbside pickup and stable rate for rear-yard pickup as essentially a subsidy for rear-yard trash collection. To do any subsidizing, Zelov said, was unwarranted and unfair to the rest of the township. Instead, more should be done to control costs, he said.

Ultimately, the board voted 8-5 to approve the collection fee increase for containers and base fees. Commissioner Jenny Brown was absent.

The rate changes are as follows:

  • Base fee increases from $204 to $222
  • Per container fee increases from $50 to $55
  • Single container fee increases from $254 to $277
  • Mini-can fee increases from $179 to $195
  • Rear yard collection fee remains at $200
Selma Davis October 18, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Hooray for Amy! I watched the hearings last night on TV until I could no longer stomach it. And when the commissioners felt "so sorry" for the people who live on "estates" their word, and have no option but to leave their cans in the rear yards, I had to turn it off. If there's going to be another increase on trash and recyclable pick up, then, at least spread the cost equitably. Don't just tax the middle class and give the 1% a basically free ride. This is pandering to the Romney-rich in our community. We people of the middle class object!!! i would have no problem in looking for a private trash hauler if the commissioners cannot figure out a better way to solve their money problems. This is just one type of example of what we can expect if Romney and his Republican cohorts get elected in November.
Richard Weisgrau October 19, 2012 at 04:57 AM
Hubris, I see your name fits your nature. You consider their equating the decision with Romney's political stances to make them "idiots." Setting aside what Romney has said about his love of the middle class with his established previous positions demonstrates his intense desire to shield the wealthy. That does not suggest that local republican leaders are unenlightened. I think the gist of the "idiots" messages equates those who voted for the now enacted proposition on the cost or refuse collection with Romney values. Yes, Democrats can be guilty of abandoning the middle class to. I hate to say it but the Dems made a Romney-like decision. Now, as guy who has taken his trash to the curb for the 36 years I have lived in LM, I am offended not by the increase in fees. It the exemption that reeks like the notions of Romney that corporations are people, banks have acted poorly because they are stressed by dealing with the administrative aftermath of all the bad loans they made, and wanting to spend 2 trillion dollars on the military that has not asked for that money while teachers, police officers, EMTs, and firemen are getting laid off in record numbers. Makes my trash seem insignificant. Hubris, get a bit of humility will ya? Oh yes, notice that I do not hide my ID behind a handle. My real name and ID is on this post, Maybe I should change my ID to Real Me. How about you. You want to put your real ID to the calling concerned citizens "idiots?"
Dan Lamprey October 21, 2012 at 11:52 PM
While I never like to hear about increases in fees or taxes, it seems inevitable. I just with to thank Patch for making us aware of it far sooner that we would otherwise find out. I love Patch!
Harry Kalish December 04, 2012 at 01:20 AM
Not only is this fee increase unwarranted, but we don't get the service for which we are being charged. I know the men who pick up our trash (BTW, is it only men?) work hard, but, since the fee was instituted, my trash pick-up service had deteriorated. First, for 3 weeks in a row, the same bag of trash is sitting in my trash can. If I'm paying for my trash to be picked up, then shouldn't my trash be picked up? Secondly, at least 3/4 of the time, the lid is not put back on either the trash can or the recycle bin. When I had rear-yard pick-up, the lid would blow into my neighbor's yard, so I'd walk over, pick it up and put it back on the can. Now, because I will not pay the extra cost for rear-yard pick-up, the lid ends up in the middle of Haverford Ave. At least twice a year, before I'm able to collect my empty trash cans, the top is run over and destroyed. So, twice a year, because you can not buy only a trash can lid, I must buy a lid and container. Add that cost to the on-going collection fee, the new increase in that fee, and the fact that only people like myself who shlep their trash to the curb to try to save money are being hit by the new fee, and the result is an unfair and unncessary penalty being levied against people like myself. It is amazing to me that these Commissioners (particularly Gordon, Rogan, Gould and Brown) who claim to represent us, can actually be so thoughtless and uncaring about their constituents.
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