By Letter to the Editor on April 14, 2020.
“Follow the money” is good advice from a reader of my last Herald letter to the editor on the City administrator’s comment about a $7 enhancement on the waste collection fee. A citizen has a right to know regarding user fees.
We asked the mayor and council what is the public purpose in their new term “increment.” Their response was that it is not a tax but a user fee.
There was Bylaw 5543, “The Recycling Bylaw,” effective Jan. 15, 2015, which stated the public purpose for the reception, processing and marketing of recyclable materials. There were two business units called Recycle Services and Recycle Fund, accountable for recyclables user fees, and the $3.60/month user fees from the three recycling depots were deposited in the Recycle Fund.
The Waste Management reports in the Operating Budget Summary, page 136: Waste Collection increased revenues (user fees) due to implementation of curbside recycling to $3,893,311, and also created an increase in operating expenses, $3,178,477. The $0.50 monthly user fee 2020 rate increase does not state Waste or Curbside Recycle Collection.
Bylaws 5724 and 5543 were merged into Waste Bylaw 6146 with the $7 increase later amended to Waste Bylaw 6198 with a .50 cent increase to the waste collection fee. The reason given for merging the bylaws was to consolidate and eliminate duplication of information and make it easier for residents to review services provided, collection disposal and legal requirements, with no mention of user fees.
The Acting Solicitor did not present a cost of service that requires user fee revenues to cover cost of waste collection, $20.70, to increase to $26.20. Council did not question the cost of service required by legal decisions, the rates or rate increases of user fees or the term residential collection and the wipeout of the recycling bylaw 5543 and accounting of residential curbside recycle collection user fees.
City council failed in their fiduciary duty to act properly on behalf of residential customers (taxpayers) by not requesting a user fee cost of service, and by not properly reviewing rates in Schedule 1-2 in bylaw 6198 to separate from waste and residential curbside recycle collection and not allow the wipeout of Recycling Bylaw 5543.
Spokesperson for Committee for Residential Utilities