The Town Board has adopted a brush pickup fee and increased the cost of service for all five of the town’s water districts.
The board narrowly approved a set of amendments to a pair of local laws Wednesday that will charge residents an annual fee of $50 for lawn and brush pickup, a service that was once provided free of charge. Residents will also see their flat fee for water service go from $25 to $75 a year.
Supervisor Harry Buffardi, Deputy Supervisor Wayne Calder — both Democrats — and Conservative board member Michael Viscusi voted in favor of the increases following a public hearing Wednesday. Republicans Joe Villano and Richard Larmour opposed the measure.
The new schedule of fees was devised during the board’s budget deliberations last fall. The increased fees were deemed necessary to compensate for the cost of brush pickup and to help fund infrastructure improvements in the town water districts, including the installation of a new wellhead on Rice Road.
Opposition to the increases arose after Villano and Larmour took office in January. Both argued the Buffardi administration was using the increased fees to help circumvent the state-imposed 2 percent property tax increase cap and give a number of town workers raises.
Buffardi defended the increases, stressing that the funds generated by them will be specifically dedicated toward defraying the cost of brush pickup and building new water infrastructure, respectively. He said residents can also opt out of the brush pickup fee and haul yard waste down to the town’s composting facility themselves.