Sullivan County Legislature: Solid Waste User Fee?


Dear Breathing readers:   So many issues, so little time.  Today’s opinion column comes to you from Tim Shera,  Sullivan County resident,  co-originator of   the Sullivan County Transition Towns initiative and long-time  peace and justice activist.   He is asking  Sullivan County residents to examine   our County Legislature’s  new  “trash law — Solid Waste  User Fee”  by  the light of  governing ethics,   unintended consequences and environmental degradation.  For the full picture,  County Manager  David Fanslau’s  letter about  the  Solid Waste User Fee  can be read here and the County’s 2010 Proposed Operating Budget can be reviewed here. (The Budget also includes a discussion of the Proposed User Fee on pages 8-10).*


*    *    *    *    *    *

Dear Sullivan County, New York:

The “trash legislation”  [“Solid Waste User Fee”]   passed recently  by our Sullivan  County Legislature  is  ill-conceived.  It lacks  strong incentives to recycle and unfairly  taxes  all householders at  the same annual rate no matter how little trash their residence  generates.

I am equally disturbed by  the Legislature’s  proposal to export Sullivan County’s  garbage to some other nearby community.  I am uncomfortable with exportation because it is fundamentally  irresponsible.  It shifts the burden to our neighbors who  are then forced  to live with our trash. Yes, the area that imports our garbage will  receive offset payments,  but I’ll bet the people living close to the landfill  (like those near  our own Monticello site)  will have little or  no choice about our waste being dumped in their backyards.

Would you willingly accept payment from  your next door neighbor to bury his trash in your yard?  As we become more sensitive about this,  I’ll bet we get responsible and stop exporting our problem.

Now to address our present situation,  I am deeply disappointed that the Legislature  (with the exception of Alan Sorenson and  Dr. David Sager)  did not incorporate a deeper wisdom and commitment to recycling in their legislation.  In large part, our beloved and beautiful earth allows and supports life  because, with the exception of some man-made  chemicals,  she recycles everything —  renewing and making available the  oxygen, clean water and  fertile soil necessary to our continued existence.   Recycling and other reductions of our waste streams are essential or the Earth’s ability to  replenish herself will be jeopardized.

Just a word about the inequity in the trash legislation before I close.   I recycle nearly  everything  by composting all veggie-type materials and  taking  recyclables to the landfill for which  I believe the county gets paid.   I end up each week with (at most)  1/4 of a Shoprite-sized bag that goes out as trash.

Why should I, or those with a similar commitment to our environment,  pay $181 a year for so little compared to others who contribute so much more to the waste stream?

Have any of you considered witholding $181 from the tax bill in January until such time as the trash law is made more  equitable and environmentally-loving?   Let me know:  (Tim Shera)  845-292-2279.

Solid Waste User Fee  Town Hall meetings will be held on:

–  Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at the Town of Tusten Town Hall, Narrowsburg, NY at 7pm

–  Tuesday, December 1, 2009 at the Liberty Senior Center in Liberty, NY at 7pm

–  Wednesday, December 9, 2009 at the Mamakating Town Hall in Wurtsboro, NY at 7pm

*Editor’s Note:   On a related matter (Sullivan County’s Proposed 2010 Budget) :  I searched  the Sullivan County site for more than half an hour looking for  Budget Hearing dates.   A  phone call to the Government Center revealed  that the dates  are  posted under an October 14th  Press Release from Jonathan Rouis.  Inexplicably, neither  I nor the clerk were able to find another  Budget Hearing notice at the County website. Breathing hopes you will copy and paste the following dates to your personal calendar  (or check the CottageWorks Community Calendar ):

Informational Town Halls (Public Hearings):   2010 Tentative Budget in the Hearing Room at the Government Center in Monticello, NY

Thursday, December 10, 2009 at 12  noon

Monday, December 14, 2009 at 7pm.

Breathing Is Political will initiate  coverage of the Town of Delaware’s public meetings and encourages others to do the same  in  their  own Legislative Districts and at the County level.  Those “citizen notes”  can then be centrally-collected in a “blogroll” or other forum and will facilitate concerted citizen responses and ideas. (A partial list of  Township meetings can be obtained  here or at  individual Town websites and a schedule of  Sullivan  County Legislative meetings is posted here.)

If you’re interested in working for free as a citizen journalist covering your  local government happenings,  give me a holler  at   cottageworks@lizbucar.com.


3 thoughts on “Sullivan County Legislature: Solid Waste User Fee?

  1. Publius of Mamakating

    Dear Ms. Bucar:
    The failure of Sullivan County to prominently publish hearing dates concerning the proposed budget on its website is unconscionable. How hard could it be for them to do that? Fortunately, the Sullivan County Democrat came through in its print edition (but not the online version), and so have you. Thanks.
    –Publius of Mamakating

  2. lizbucar Post author

    You’re welcome. There’s a serious need for a blogroll of citizen journalists who report on governance in our villages, towns, county and boards of education. We’ve got some very fine reporters working in the local print media but they’re stretched way too thin and we should be concerned about the impact of the continued downturn on our local media if advertising dollars become scarce. (Another great reason to shop local this holiday season!!)

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