City Hall has citizens over a barrel

Dear Editor,

Reference is made to the article captioned, ‘City to charge residents garbage collection fee’ (SN, January 6).  I suppose this mishandled matter had to come to this sorry, dirty, costly place.  Two old saws come to mind: City Hall has citizens over a barrel; and City Hall now enjoys the equivalent of shooting fish (residents) in a barrel.  And to rub salt in the eye, there is now payment for doing so come February.  I call this pre-Lenten penance.

I do not like this fee, but it has to be paid.  Truth be told, I have been paying much more for years to have the week-old garbage removed, whenever City Hall arrangements did not occur as scheduled; or there was no appearance at all.  There are others who can identify with this willing surcharge exchange made privately.  Call it civic duty, a concern for health, and helping with pollution busting efforts.

But there is anger and disgust.  There is anger that this fee has to be paid, because many others failed to honour their obligations to official city coffers year after year.  Some are businesspeople; others among the swindling class are similarly sophisticated citizens, who find ways to either resist or circumvent paying official dues.  Now diligent and observing taxpayers have to pay for the shortfall created by others, pretending at being upstanding citizens.  It is a shortfall that, I believe, in some ways was aided and abetted by City Hall people looking the other way, collecting at other rates, and generally giving a temporary free pass.  Now the piper has to be paid by those who have done their part honestly and constantly.

I am perturbed and disgusted that some who form part of the bourgeois revolution (parking meter protests, among other evasions) are numbered among the chronic defaulters.  They are not small ones.  And I am disturbed that mismanagement at City Hall can flourish so publicly for so long so successfully.  But anger and all the rest are negative and only go so far; both must be managed and channelled.  So, if $200 a barrel will subsidize and facilitate the continuing presence of those two delivering private contractors, then the money must be shown.  I count this as part of my contribution to the sanity and tranquillity of the city; tranquillity because consistent garbage removal lends to peace of mind, quality of life, and the space to focus on other urgent matters of the day.

Even as I express all of this, I am wondering how, as a practical matter this fee will be applied or collected.  Is it cash on the barrel (literally)?  If it so, what happens to those residents who place barrels on the parapet and are then gone for the whole day?  Sticking with the cash scenario at pick-up point, do garbage trucks then become the latest targets of criminal opportunity?  Or, is the fee to be added as a line item to the annual rates and taxes bill?  I would hope not, as I foresee this perpetuating the cheating class that created the massive financial deficits in the first place.

Whatever the mechanism, I am ready to do my part.  I have to.  It is my hope that this involuntary private-public partnership (a sting operation if ever there was one) will prove to be enduring and successful.  I would not like to write one more word about the garbage situation in this town.  Except, of course, it is of the political variety.  That should be good for a separate barrel of laughs, and it does not cost $200 a head.

Yours faithfully,

GHK Lall

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