City Proposes Trash Fee on Non-Owner-Occupied Units

A proposal to collect a trash-disposal fee from housing units that are not owner-occupied, and businesses, would result in an estimated $2 million in annual revenue, according to Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy.

Kennedy, who has been working with City Council President Darren Cyr on identifying additional sources of revenue in order to avoid layoffs of police, DPW and City Hall personnel, said this option was chosen because it has minimal impact on residential taxpayers.

“The biggest burden falls on absentee landlords,” Kennedy said. “We are trying to have the least impact on the average taxpayer.”

Under the plan, which is expected to be discussed by the city council at a public hearing on June 27, a trash-collection fee would be imposed on any unit that is not owner-occupied. Landlords who live in buildings up to six families would not pay the fee for their unit, and pay for the other units at a lower rate than units owned by landlords who do not live in the building.

Owners of buildings with more than six units are already responsible for their own trash disposal. It is estimated that of the 27,000 units for which the city collects trash – including approximately 12,000 single-family homes — about a third of all units would be subject to the trash fee.

“We tend to have more problems with buildings owned by landlords who do not live in them,” said Cyr.

Kennedy said if the ordinance is approved by the city council, the fees would be set by DPW Commissioner Andy Hall. Peter Caron, the city’s chief financial officer, estimated it would bring in at least $2 million annually.

Under the ordinance, the city would also collect a modest fee from businesses that have their trash picked up by the city. Kennedy estimated that fee at about $40 per month, stressing that is likely well below what a private waste-disposal contractor would charge.

“None of this is ideal,” Kennedy said. “We are trying to address a budget deficit without layoffs. If we don’t impose this fee and are forced to lay off people, the impact in the loss of city services would be felt by all residents and businesses.”

Kennedy said if the budget deficit is not closed, there would likely be at least 40 layoffs spread out among police, DPW and City Hall. The fire department has a minimum-manning clause in its contract and the library is required to spend a certain amount in order to receive state funding, Kennedy said, in explaining why those departments would not be subject to layoffs.

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