The Manlius Town Board last week approved a town-wide resolution to eliminate the opportunity for residents to opt out of trash and brush pickup in the two town trash and brush districts. The new policy will take effect Jan. 1, 2015.
The intent of the resolution is to save the town money and make trash and brush pickup and payment more fair, although at least one board member offered concerns over the removal of residents’ freedom to choose who their trash and brush haulers will be.
“Taking away someone’s inherent right to pick and choose who they do business with … doesn’t sit well with me,” said Councilor Jason Cassalia during the board’s Aug. 27 meeting.
The town board originally created two trash/brush districts in the town in 2004, which allowed any town residential property owner of a three family or less home — and who does not live inside any of the villages of Fayetteville, Manlius or Minoa — to use municipally-bid removal services of Syracuse Haulers, or to opt out of the municipal service and hire a trash/brush hauler of their own choosing.
The 2014 annual charge for trash enrollment is $155, and the charge for brush removal is $30.
The board discussed the idea of eliminating the opt out option in the trash and brush district at its Aug. 13 regular meeting, during which time Town Attorney Steven Primo said the majority of towns do not offer an opt out option because it is difficult to administrate. He said eliminating the option would cause the overall trash and brush district costs to go down.
Town Manager Ann Oot said during the Aug. 27 meeting that there have been “a lot of issues” with people receiving trash and brush hauling for free because not everybody knows there are trash and brush districts.
Supervisor Ed Theobald said the policy change will create more fairness by making everyone pay the fees, thereby removing the burden on residents who pay the fees from carrying people who are receiving free hauling.
There are currently about 14,000 families in the trash and brush districts, and maybe about 40 currently opt out, said Councilor David Marnell.
Under the resolution, eliminating the opt-out option is the only change to the trash and brush pickup policy. Residents who are part of homeowners associations currently under contract with a private hauler may be allowed to remain under that contract without penalty despite the policy change, Primo said.
“We’ll have to see if this trumps that contract,” he told the board.
Individual contracts with trash and brush haulers are different than homeowners associations and can usually be terminated at will, he said.
“I’m happy with my service [with Syracuse Haulers], but I’m always concerned when we tell citizens: ‘You don’t have a right to choose,’” Cassalia said.
Theobald said he agreed with Cassalia’s philosophy: “I’ve never been a fan of mandates, and that’s what this is.” Theobald added, however, that people will have the right to choose to keep their current hauling service if they want, but they still will have to pay the district surcharge on top of whatever they pay their hauler.
“I’m sure we’ll get a lot of [public] pushback,” Theobald said.
The board voted unanimously to approve the resolution, minus Councilor Karen Green, who was absent.
The board previously had authorized the town clerk to publish the trash and brush bid advertisement for the collection and disposal of brush, trash and recyclables in the town of Manlius, with the bid opening scheduled to occur at 2 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 10, at the Manlius Town Hall.
Also at the meeting, the board:
—Rescheduled a town board and town zoning board of appeals joint public hearing to determine the jurisdiction for the proposed Manlius fire station at the corner of Enders Road and Route 92, for 7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 11, in the Manlius Town Hall.
—Heard a brief town budget presentation from Councilor Nicholas Marzola in anticipation of the upcoming town budget cycle. Marzola said the state tax levy cap for 2015 will be 1.56 percent, versus the 1.66 percent in 2014. He said that even though the town kept its budget under the tax levy cap for the past two years, this year will be “much more difficult to attain” because of all the state mandates on the town such as retirement, health care and personnel costs.
—Unanimously approved a local law to override the state property tax cap, which is an action the board takes every year. “It’s considered prudent to adopt this … we always recommend to adopt no matter what,” said Primo. “We’re just protecting ourselves from severe penalties if we don’t do it.”
—Unanimously approved a five-year agreement with the Onondaga County Board of Elections to create an election polling place in the Manlius Town Highway Department, located at 5970 Clemons Road, East Syracuse.
—Unanimously approved an agreement with the village of Manlius to accept the transfer of a surplus ambulance to use for emergency services in the town at the cost of $1.
Jason Emerson is the incoming editor of the Eagle Bulletin. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.