Fulton Approves Rate Increase For Garbage Collection

FULTON, NY – As of September, garbage and refuse rates in the city of Fulton will increase by approximately $10 per quarter.

The Fulton Common Council hosted a public hearing on the rate increase Tuesday evening. The rate is set to increase from $29.01 per quarter to $39 per quarter.

Daniel O’Brien, Fulton Commissioner of Public Works, explained that the rate increase was proposed in an effort to keep the garbage department self sustaining.

O’Brien explained that increased costs in expense lines for fuel, medical insurance and tipping fees over the past several years have put a dent in the department’s contingency budget.

“We’re also looking into the future,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien noted that the department is set up to pay for itself. When it functions as it should, he said that equipment costs and other departmental needs are funded internally, without going to the general tax.

“It is dwindling,” O’Brien said. “It’s not going to self support very soon.”

Resident Ted Muller pointed out that taxpayer expenses are going up, as well.

“Do we need to increase here too?” he asked.

Mayor Ronald Woodward said that the only reasonable options are to eliminate garbage pickup or to fund it.

“You need to do it or don’t,” he said.

Woodward noted that as taxpayers, councilors don’t want to pay higher rates either. He pointed out, however, that Fulton’s rates are lower than other municipalities in the area. He noted that his mother, who resides in Volney, pays more $65 per quarter and is able to put only two bags out to the roadside.

The small increase, he said, will help to raise the contingency for the department and will allow the department to fund its needs, such as replacing aging equipment.

O’Brien said that when equipment is purchased through bond anticipation notes, the department could be able to pay those off within the five years available before a bond is issued.

“If we can pay those off in five years, we never have to go to a bond,” he said.

Muller, who owns a multi-family home, pointed out that rate increases hit him more than a single-family household that may generate more trash at the curb.

“I am just looking for something equal to the single family (houses),” Muller said.

Woodward noted that fees are applied based on the number of water meters attached to a residence. He pointed out that more than 1,000 single-family residences in the city are owner-occupied by senior citizens who often don‘t put as much trash outside but pay the same as a single-family household that puts out several bags each week.

“We look at living units,” Woodward said. “In the end, the best thing we can do is what’s best for the majority (of the city).”

Third Ward Alderman Robert Weston said that while the department had been receiving revenues above expenses through 2004, that shifted in 2005.

“We’ve been hanging on since 2005,” Weston said. “All costs have to be absorbed somewhere. … Overall, we’ve done a god job managing out program.”

Second Ward Alderman David Guyer suggested that the city could have raised rates by a couple of dollars each year, rather than going with the $10 increase at one time.

“Hopefully in the future, that an be addressed,” Guyer said.

First Ward Alderman Thomas Kenyon pointed out that the city is losing revenue in the garbage department to “scrappers” who go around the city to take metals that are put to the curb.

“When (garbage metal) hits the road, it’s the city’s,” Kenyon said. “It’s our revenue that we’re losing.”

O’Brien said that he is hopeful that the city will be able to do more to separate and recover revenues from metals once the DPW’s new facility is up and running.

Kenyon said the city also sees more costs when residents bring trash into Fulton from friends or family outside of the city.

Fourth Ward Alderman Dana Smith said that as a taxpayer, he understands the burden of increased costs.

“But this is a good service,” Smith noted.

Following the hearing, the council unanimously supported the rate increase.