If you live in a house or an apartment building with one, two or three units on the property, you get your garbage picked up in Gloversville for free as part of the community’s regular municipal service.
But if you’re the same resident of Gloversville who happens to live in an apartment where there are four or more units, your complex is considered a commercial business, which means the town won’t pick up your trash for free as it does for other residents.
If you want your trash picked up, the owners of the complex now have to hire a private service, which could run into hundreds of dollars a month. And who do city offi cials think they’ll pass the cost of that private trash pickup onto? Their tenants, many of whom might barely be able to afford the rent they’re paying now.
Ordinances like the one that just took effect in Gloversville as a way to save taxpayers money essentially punish residents, based on where they live and how many apartments are clumped together in one spot.
It doesn’t seem fair to those people, who individually probably don’t produce any more trash than the average other Gloversville resident living in a house or an apartment building that has two or three apartments. In effect, residents of homes and smaller apartment complexes are being given a free service that other residents must pay for.
Because of the ordinance, some tenants who see their rents increased by the cost of trash pickup might be forced to move into cheaper housing. But moving can be a disruptive, time-consuming and expensive endeavor that not only affects the adults, but their children.
The ordinance also seems blind to the type of business it targets.
Categorizing a four-unit apartment building the same as a store or a restaurant or offi ce complex isn’t comparing apples to apples. Yes, a four-unit apartment building is a business. But it’s a residential housing business — just like smaller apartment buildings are. How can the city justify making such a distinction?
Offi cials say some rental properties appear to be responsible for garbage in the streets, broken bags and unkempt properties, which hurts the city’s image. They believe that passing the cost of trash pickup onto the landlords of larger rental operations will force them to take better care of their properties.
But in charging all large landlords for trash pickup, they’re also punishing landlords who maintain their properties. Why not, as other communities do, use code enforcement to compel owners to maintain the properties through the use of fi nes in order to complensate the city for the extra cleanup costs it incurs.
If the problem is that large multi-unit residences are producing more trash than the average rental property — perhaps because of illegal dumping — then allow free trash pickup up to a certain size container and charge the landlord for any excess. That extra charge might compel those landlords to better secure their trash containers without giving them justifi cation for passing the cost onto tenants.
Somehow, it just doesn’t seem right that some residents get free trash pickup and others don’t, simply because of where they live.
City offi cials should look for other ways to solve the problems they had hoped the ordinance would solve.