"Pay-per-bag" trash service coming?

March 5, 2009 4:02:10 PM PST
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter will present his budget in a couple of weeks, and there's already a lot of trash talk going on.City trash collectors working in West Philadelphia were picking up and hauling many tons away of trash Thursday, a standard city service normally paid for with funds from the city's operating budget. But signs of change are on the way in these times of economic despair. In addition to the probability of higher property and sales taxes, the mayor appears poised to call for new trash collection fees, perhaps charging resident a "per-bag" basis. In other words, the larger the bag, the higher the fee. "We cannot afford to continue to provide the level of service based on the collective taxes that we get from folks," said Mayor Michael Nutter. On the street today, people were not happy about the plan. "I don't make that much money. So I've got to pay for trash now?" said Marquita McMillen of North Philadelphia. "That's crazy. With all the taxes we pay now, and now you're telling me we got to pay for trash bags and trash pickup? We might as well live in the suburbs," said Bill Void of Olney. From city council, who will have to sign off on any higher fees and tax increases, there were few cheers and mostly jeers, even though there's a $1 billion deficit to close. "Not trash-per-bag, that's not the way to go," said Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell. "No can do." "If the mayor were to propose a property tax increase, depending on the size of it, I would vote for it," said Councilman Bill Green, Jr. "I'm opposed to any kind of fees for trash." The mayor will formally present his new budget in two weeks. No matter what painful elements wind up in there, it gurantees a spirited debate this spring at City Hall.

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