Memo To The Mayor - 60-Day Extension

To Mayor Dyster

We would like to begin by thanking the Council and the Mayor’s office for the efforts in trying to make Niagara Falls cleaner and greener.  We as an association have no issue with providing totes for trash and recycling.  We believe it is a noble effort and in the long run will help eliminate rat and rodent issues associated with garbage collection and increase the City’s recycling numbers considerably.

We would like to go on record and ask that the amendment to the contract be included to treat our residents like any other resident in the City of Niagara Falls and that the Letter of Agreement with Modern that was passed last week, adding the Niagara Falls Housing Authority and hundreds of commercial customers, be rescinded until an equitable agreement can be made with all and one proper change order added to the Modern Contract.  Rushing to amend the contract without a full plan in place could jeopardize the good work that has been done thus far.

As member and non-member landlords, we collectively pay well over $5 million dollars in property taxes to the city house well over 21,000 residents in Niagara Falls, and are a huge economic driver for the city. When one of us improves a property, it improves a neighborhood. The vast majority of landlords in this city are good, law abiding citizens that just want to add value to their properties and make a living. Additionally, excluding our residents from the plan only exacerbates and undermines the entire intent of the law while passing on costs to a population of residents that in some instances, can least afford it.

We are asking that our properties be given and are included in the City’s revamp of its garbage program. This should be all or nothing. If we are not included, then all non-homestead taxpayers should not be included as well and all should receive a credit on their taxes for the service that has been taken away. The haphazard way the city has been adding customers only hamstrings the city, creates confusion and a "have and have not" mentality amongst residents, property owners and small businesses.

It's simple. If you had garbage collection before, you should have it now. Bins should be distributed to all households. If a large property exists and it is not feasible to have bins and totes, the landlord at that time can opt for dumpster service which he/she will pay the base rent of the container itself and the Refuse Memo: garbage and recycling material will be free of charge when dumped. This system currently exists at many apartment complexes in the city.

Most importantly, putting the cart before the horse, so to speak, is no way to roll out a plan. We respectfully request that the date for start-up be moved for another 60 days to iron out issues associated with this process and any assistance you need form our organization --- we would be happy to help.

It is also very important when changing habits that the approach taken is gradual with a timeline for compliance. This should be instituted with the recycling law. Education about recycling is a yearlong process and can be successful with the right educational team in place. Exempting the Niagara Falls Housing Authority from recycling efforts, while forcing other residents to do so, defeats the law before it begins. The letter agreement you passed last week does just that.

Here is what we are asking:

• All or nothing – all current garbage users should be excluded or all included -- creating exceptions only weakens the law.

• If excluded, a direct credit should be given to every property owner in the City based on their actual cost for the service. E.g. 100 apartments would cost about $10 per/unit per/month = $1,000 or $12,000 per year.

• Delay the plan for 60 days to iron out the issues associated with unequal distribution of the ordinance/law. First step, rescind recent amendments to create one change order to avoid further confusion and bad feelings on all sides.

• Develop an education team with block clubs and other organizations to help with the recycling education effort. Our executive board is willing to help provide assistance with this task.

We understand that this proposal has gone a little awry and there are some hard feelings on all sides. But the betterment of the City is everyone’s primary goal and we would like to work constructively with the Council and Administration for the full implementation of a project that will only make the City a little cleaner and a little greener.

We look forward to your action on these issues at the July 14th meeting so that residents, small business owners, and city officials can stop, take a breath, and more forward together.

The Executive Board of the LAGN
Robert Pascoal President
Jeff Williams Vice Chair / Document's Author