Residents will have their leaves picked up again now that the Town Board has restored funding for the program, hoping for state money to cover the cost.
Town Board member Chris Koetzle had proposed restoring funding for leaf and bulk waste pickup programs at a cost of roughly $67,000. These services had been eliminated because of budget cutbacks last year.
Koetzle argued that the town should continue the leaf pickup program because it would be significantly more expensive for residents to have the county take their leaves away.
Public Works Commissioner Rick LeClair said the leaf pickup started Thursday and will continue daily for about six to eight weeks. “We’ll continue on until we’re done.”
The board voted 3-2 Wednesday to restore the funding, after extensive public comment. Koetzle said the town can handle the program efficiently for less than $5 per household.
“We’re saving them hundreds of dollars over what they would pay to another hauler. I’m glad that the board reconsidered its original decision,” he said.
Koetzle previously said there was $23,000 in the budget for leaf pickup that the town did not spend because the winter weather hit early, so the town needs only about $35,000. About $10,000 will be committed to the bulk waste pick-up.
Koetzle, a Republican, called Sen. Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna, and Assemblyman James Tedisco, R-Schenectady, to help out. Farley has a member item in the pending state budget for $25,000 and Tedisco has one for $10,000. Koetzle remained optimistic that the funding would be approved.
“There will be no impact on property taxes to pay for all of these programs,” he said.
Farley said he put in for the member item after hearing from Koetzle, as well as his constituents.
“I’ve had a lot of calls from citizens who are very, very concerned that they are not going to be able to get loose leaf pickup,” he said. “I know that’s a huge thing for me in Niskayuna. I’ve got a bunch of old oak, monstrous big leaf piles in front of my house.”
Board members Mark Quinn and Valerie DiGiandomenico voted with Koetzle to restore the program. Supervisor Frank Quinn and Edward Rosenberg voted in opposition.
Quinn said he remained concern about the town’s budget, especially in light of the shrinking economy.
“I’m not sure we have the money to pay for it or we won’t be able to pay for something else later in the year.”
He said the town cut out many things as it prepared the budget and it needs to take a total approach. “I want to look at them all — not one this time, not one next meeting and one the meeting after.”
The town does not have the final numbers yet, but Quinn said he expects to close the 2007 year with a surplus. The town had projected about $850,000 previously.
Regarding the bulk waste pickup, Koetzle had said previously that the town had thought the bulk pickup program was going to cost significantly more than the $10,000 allocated for it because the town had to use the prevailing state wage for these workers. The town was in fact, already paying the prevailing wage, so that is not an issue.
The bulk waste pickup will not happen until the town gets a confirmed pickup time from County Waste. He said it would happen either at the end of April or beginning of June, LeClair said.
More from The Daily Gazette: