IRONDEQUOIT, N.Y. (WROC) — The Town of Irondequoit may be getting its first refuse district soon, thanks to a grassroots effort in the Lakeside Neighborhood Association. A refuse district is a state-law-enabled and protected group in a neighborhood that works with a town to contract one pickup service for the whole area.
Towns like Brighton and Pittsford, which have robust refuse district programs, say that it means a lower cost for each resident.
“The first year that we did the refuse district program… immediately the price we got per household was so low that for a lot of people they were paying only half what they had been paying before,” said Pittsford Town Supervisor Bill Smith in a phone interview.
With a refuse district, the cost for the refuse removal company would move the lowered price from an out-of-pocket cost to an item line on their taxes, Smith said.
Once 51% of the assessed property value of a district votes in, a petition is filed. After that come public hearings and a vote. Jeff Murphy, who is spearheading the effort in the Lakeside Neighborhood, moved from New York City to Irondequoit, when he noticed three different companies were picking up trash in his small area.
“It made sense to explore if there could be one company,” Murphy said Wednesday, in the snow. He says he is currently in the process of gathering signatures.
“It’s an easy thing,” Murphy said. Save some money, have less noise in the neighborhood, less wear and tear on the roads, better for the environment… all of those factors make it an easy decision.”
The Town of Irondequoit also says they will work with anyone or any group looking to create a refuse district, including providing templates, materials, notaries, and more, according to Town Councilmember Kimie Romeo.
“Once (a petition is filed), we put it out for an RFP (request for proposal, and we take a look at the bids,” she said.
She says Irondequoit’s modeled their approach after Pittsford’s. Irondequoit currently has no refuse districts, whereas Pittsford has a robust refuse district system.
“Right now we have 24 refuse districts in the town. I can tell you that right now, there are six additional neighborhoods that are collecting petitions to become refuse districts,” Supervisor Smith said.
Smith says Pittsford began pushing for these districts when he says waste haulers began consolidating a few years ago, prices started climbing. And like the Town of Irondequoit, he says it’s up to the residents.
“It’s up to the neighborhood to decide whether they want to refuse district, it’s up to the people who live in the neighborhood to define the boundaries of the refuse district,” Supervisor Smith said.
Brighton Town Supervisor Bill Moehle said in a phone interview that about half of the town is now part of one consolidated refuse district. The individual districts were consolidated further to make processing bills easier and cheaper.
“There are certainly economies of scale for the refuse hauler to be able to do their work more efficiently and as a result our experiences It’s been that our bids have been very attractive compared to what folks are able to get on their own from the company,” Moehle said.
Romeo also said that if this passes, fewer trucks on their roads every day could mean fewer taxpayer dollars going to road fix.
Two major waste haulers in the Greater Rochester Area also responded by issuing statements:
We oppose the idea of a refuse district… We believe consumers should be able to choose their providers and be able to change providers.
We believe that a free market and the ability for individuals to choose their own service providers is the best way to serve the broader Rochester community. Eliminating competition in this manner has several unintended consequences for consumers and businesses alike. With that said, we have the proven ability to provide service under these kinds of agreements as well.