Schenectady County

Niskayuna eyes fee for yard waste

Niskayuna’s new leaf and brush pickup fee could be finalized later this month.

Niskayuna’s new leaf and brush pickup fee could be finalized later this month.

The fee is proposed at $30 per year per parcel, Supervisor Joe Landry said. Homeowners will be automatically enrolled, but will have the option to opt out.

The yard waste fee was included in the 2012 town budget, with predicted revenue of $150,000.

The fee itself was prompted by the state’s new cap on municipal tax increases. Fees don’t count toward the 2 percent tax cap.

“This is not covering the whole cost. This is helping cover some of the cost associated with this service that the town provides,” Landry said. “Really what happened is with the tax cap, we were not able to raise taxes more than the tax cap allows, and we have to do things like this.”

The town has about 8,200 parcels, Landry said. At $30 per parcel, about $246,000 would be raised if no one opted out. That is far more than the $150,000 budgeted, but the town is being conservative as it is a new fee structure.

Residents who pay would continue to receive weekly yard waste pickup for about 32-34 weeks a year. Those who do not pay would be put on a list of addresses for the town pickup crew to skip.

The board is expected to vote on the new local law at its Jan. 24 meeting. Letters would go out to residents shortly afterward, explaining the program and fee and how to opt out, Landry said. The deadline to opt out would be in mid-February.

Residents who do not want to be charged the fee would have to opt out each year, Landry said. A list would then be kept, noting which houses the trucks should skip.

A separate bill is to be sent out. If that is not paid, the money would be collected with the tax bill, Landry said.

Town Board member Jonathan McKinney questioned signing everyone up for the program, then making people actively opt out.

That method, he said, is essentially hoping residents forget and just pay it.

“Why make people say they don’t want it, instead of letting the people that want it sign up?” he said.

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