NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WKBW) — After being tabled, the garbage user fee is now part of the mayor's final budget plan for next year. Homeowners in Niagara Falls will pay roughly $218 in garbage fees next year.
Some are against it and some are for it. With the city's budget due on October 1, Mayor Paul Dyster (D) was forced to make a decision.
"It was great while it lasted, but as the cost of everything has risen over the years, it has become clear that this is not sustainable," said Mayor Dyster about the coverage of garbage costs by the city.
City officials voted to table the issue during a meeting last week. Officials originally proposed about s $250 garbage fee.
The budget deficit is more than $4 million. To get out of the red, the mayor said he weighed three solutions.
1. Enforce the garbage fee
2. Raise taxes
3. Make cuts to city jobs
His final proposal does all three.
18 positions will be cut, according to the mayor. Eight from the Department of Public Works, five from city hall, and the remaining five are vacant positions in the fire and police departments.
The budget includes a tax levy increase of up to 2.13%, per the mayor.
And the garbage user fee would cost $218 annually or less than $4.20 per week.
Mayor Dyster says it was the best option for the city.
"We're providing the services that people demand, we're doing it at the lowest possible cost. We are looking for ways to trim the size of city government," said Mayor Dyster.
Councilman Chris Voccio (R) disagreed.
"What the user fee does is, it's a cop out and it avoids making the painful decisions about restructuring the cost of the government," said Councilman Voccio.
People told 7 Eyewitness News Reporter Taylor Epps that the deficit is what they expected.
"It's not looking good. They're always saying the city's in debt. Constantly," said Earnest Watts, who's lived in Nigara Falls for 10 years.
But Mayor Dyster remains optimistic.
"In fact, the long term future of Niagara Falls is bright," said Mayor Dyster.
Now it's all up to the council members, who have until December 1, to approve or deny the budget proposal, including the garbage user fee.
There will be one more public hearing at the end of October.