City begins consultations on garbage collection fee

City Hall last Thursday started a series of consultations on its move to implement a fee for garbage collection for city residents.

The first consultation, which was held in the Chambers of City Hall, saw a mixed response by residents, with some agreeing to the proposal and some others opposing it.

While a fee of $200 has been suggested for the weekly collection of garbage, one resident who was in favour of paying for the service said the cost should be lower.

City spokeswoman Debra Lewis told this newspaper that the proposed fee would cover multiple receptacles.

Solid Waste Director Walter Narine also told those gathered at the consultation that new bylaws are being drafted to impose fines and summon residents who engage in unsafe environmental practices.

“We will have bylaws to govern every household… every household will have to pay or they will be fined and summoned to court,” he explained.

Narine further told residents that if a household does not pay, it would not benefit from the garbage collection service.

He also said that payments would be expected to be made directly to the revenue collection office at City Hall.

“All payments to council will be done at council, not on the streets or [to] any refuse collector or any revenue collector,” he said.

The imposition of the fee is as a result of City Hall’s continuing challenges with the collection and disposal of garbage. Several areas of the city had actually been without the service for a number of days in January until Cevons Waste Management Inc and Puran Brothers Disposal Inc, the two largest private contractors, resumed their collection services for the council. The contractors had stopped working on January 1st, 2018, after a temporary arrangement with the Central Government came to an end.

The municipality has been unable to meet its financial obligations to the contractors and it had estimated that even with the proposed fee, it would be subsidising 70% of the total cost of garbage collection from residents.

Narine noted that during the period Cevons and Puran Brothers had ceased operations, residents were willing to pay more than the current proposed fee to have their waste disposed.

Narine also stated that on a daily basis an estimated 220 tonnes of garbage is picked up in the city. He indicated that the city’s population has grown extensively, resulting in a higher volume of waste generation in residential and commercial districts.

From September 1st, last year, city businesses were classified into three categories, small, medium and large and billed $5,000, $8,000 and $12,000 per month, respectively, for garbage disposal. At that time, Town Clerk Royston King had justified the need for the introduction of the fees by stating that the council spends over $50 million per month to dispose of the city’s waste. There was no mention of a fee for residents at the time.

Meanwhile, Lewis said the remaining consultations will be held in the communities in a bid to get more feedback from residents. Following the consultations, the full council will vote on the proposed fee.

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