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Garbage fee for Niagara Falls residents?

Lawmakers look for ways to fill a $4 million budget hole
Posted at 6:23 PM, Sep 13, 2019

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WKBW) — When the idea of a garbage user fee was proposed in 2018, it was shot down by Niagara Falls city residents - but now the idea is back.

Mayor Paul Dyster (D) said the city needs to find a revenue source to fill a $4 million dollar gap in the 2020 budget.

Under the proposed plan, Niagara Falls residents would no longer get free garbage service. Instead, a user fee of approximately $250/year would be imposed.

Will it pass the city council knowing how angry residents were in 2018?

Lawmakers expect to have protests and angry citizens voicing opposition to the plan.

Niagara Falls City Council Chairman Andrew Touma (D), said there is really no other options because failing to pass the garbage user fee would either mean a large property tax increase, or 60-70 layoffs in police, fire and public safety - with the possibility that garbage pickup would also be trimmed back.

On Wednesday September 18th, the city council will debate the idea and vote on whether to schedule a public hearing for the matter on Wednesday September 25th.

While many residents expressed outrage to 7 Eyewitness News, Councilman Kenny Tompkins (R) said he wasn't sure if the garbage user fee was needed or not, because nobody on the council has seen the mayor's proposed 2020 budget - which is due on October 1st.

"Until I see the budget and all the different cuts that have been made, there is no way I can look at this or consider supporting it," said Tompkins.

Mayor Paul Dyster told reporter Ed Reilly that he needs to have the council act on the user fee before he puts together his budget for next year, to determine if the $4 million gap will be funded or not. Dyster said the garbage user fee breaks down to about $5/week.

"We can't keep going to the taxpayers," said Niagara Falls Councilman Chris Voccio (R), who added, "We need to put government on a diet and put taxpayers first."

Voccio said he believes the city should cut taxes by sitting down with the unions and making some hard decisions.

Niagara Falls has been negatively impacted by the ongoing casino payment dispute between the Seneca Nation of Indians and New York State.

Mayor Dyster said all parties have submitted paperwork to a federal judge in hopes a hearing on the dispute will be scheduled soon.