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).*
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.