Trashing the Solid Waste Ordinance

The Amsterdam Common Council passed an ordinance during their last meeting, revising the City Code Chapter 201 – Solid Waste. This controversial revision introduced by Mayor Ann Thane makes the property owner financially liable for bulk items and special refuse left on their sidewalks and collected by City workers.

1. By placing a bulk or specialty item curbside, the property owner consents to the collection of an item by the City of Amsterdam and agrees to the associated charge of collection.

2. A tenant or resident of the subject property is deemed to have authority to place bulk or specialty items curbside as the agent of the property owner.

3. Upon collection of a bulk or specialty item a bill will be sent addressed to the individual requesting the collection or if no individual made such a request then to the “resident” of the subject property, if the same is not paid within 30days, a bill will be sent to the owner of record of the subject property, if this is not paid within 30 days then the charge shall be a lien on the subject property and collected as specified in section 201-8.

Aside from being the longest run-on sentence in history, #3 refers to a requested collection that is not addressed in any other part of the ordinance. There are many ambiguities in this ordinance which make it hard to both read, interpret and I imagine to enforce. There is supposed to be a list of fees for disposal of these bulk and specialty items published in the local paper according to the ordinance.

Bulk items are identified as large household furniture and appliances, such as mattresses, chairs, refrigerators, stoves weighing more than 30 pounds, motor vehicle tires and large tree trimmings, properly bundled and capable of being lifted by two people, except recyclables.

Special refuse is listed as items that are required to be separated from the waste system and are subject to additional collection charges, such as tires and certain electronic items. A list of such items shall be promulgated by the Department of Public Works, from time to time.

The full text of the Solid Waste Ordinance including the revisions can be found here:

City Code Chapter 201 – Solid Waste

What is to keep an unscrupulous neighbor from dumping on your property? There is a change in the ordinance that makes it unlawful, the problem again is enforcement. Although the ordinance changes enforcement officials to include all housing inspectors, building inspectors, code enforcement officials, any police officer and the sanitation foreman, they haven’t been enforcing our existing codes. This ordinance encourages unorchestrated dumping as there are no schedules or time tables presented. Renters can feel free to dump knowing they will not be held liable.  Let’s face the facts here, the economy is bad and we already pay high taxes and garbage collection fees. Bulk and special refuse items should be included in those fees. Every other place I have lived, including the Town of Amsterdam, provides a scheduled Spring pick up of these items at no additional charge. If City officials want to regain a modicum of respect from residents, they should follow suit.

Our City Officials need to realize that they cannot continue to enact legislation without a solid plan for implementation and enforcement. This revised ordinance makes a bad situation worse and should be totally rewritten in a concise and uncomplicated manner.

The Common Council approved this revision without any public input. As if it was an afterthought, a public meeting is scheduled for March 1, 2011 at 7:10pm. Show up at this meeting and voice your disapproval.  Phone or email your Alderman and tell them to TRASH THE REVISION TO THE SOLID WASTE ORDINANCE!

Mayor Ann Thane (518) 841-4311 athane@amsterdamny.gov

1st Ward Alderman Joseph M. Isabel (518) 684-6260  jmisabel@verison.net

2nd Ward Alderman Julie Pierce (518) 842-4851  jpierce@amsterdamny.gov

3rd Ward Alderman Gina DeRossi (518) 842-5697  gderossi@amsterdamny.gov

4th Ward Alderman William D Wills (518) 843-4660        wdwills@ymail.com

5th Ward Alderman Richard Leggiero (518)  843-0808  rleggier@nycap.rr.com

If you are not sure of what Ward you live in, here is a Ward map.

City of Amsterdam Ward Map

Please voice your disapproval of this revision to the Solid Waste Ordinance before a couch land on your sidewalk!

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25 thoughts on “Trashing the Solid Waste Ordinance

  1. Diane

    Thanks Jerry, good comments.

    First, MOSA in now taking electronics at the transfer station at no cost. Televisions, computers, radios, key boards, mice, hard drives, printers, etc., residents just have to deliver them there. If you can take it to the curb, just load into the car instead and take over to the MOSA station on 5S.

    The city should go ahead and have a spring clean up every year which would stop a lot of the bulk/trash items being dumped around the city. Some renters have no respect for other people’s property. They know the rules and that is why furniture and appliances are dumped all over. This is the best way to stop it in my humble opinion.

    In the past two years the MOSA rates have dropped. As a result there should be some additional savings in the cities tipping fees and therefore some extra funds to do a spring clean up. It would seem to me, the more often you do it, the less trash/bulk items there will be to pick up. If residents know there is an annual spring or fall clean up, they will let things pile up and put them out accordingly.

    Point of Interest: When a law is put forth and approved by council, unless you have a copy in advance to comment on, the procedure is a public hearing before the next
    CC meeting, after the approval meeting. So those wishing to comment may pick up a hard copy at the clerks office, (or download from above) and speak at next Tuesday’s meeting. The public hearing is always blocked for before the CC meeting, with 5 minutes allowed for comment. There are also 2 other local laws that were approved and up for public hearing.

    • Diane,
      Thanks for your input, I know you have more experience with Common Council meetings than most. I still feel its ass-backwards to vote on and approve a proposal before public comment is heard.

      • Diane

        I agree Jerry, it is backwards.
        We also need more people to be aware of what is going on in city hall. This particular LL should have been tabled, as their were so many changes to the draft. The CC is unnecessarily passing things that need to go to committee for discussion first.

  2. Thomas

    Jerry,

    I want to thank you for posting a map of the city Wards. If I am wrong I will accept that, but from what I can tell there is still no map of the city wards on the Amsterdam web site ? I have brought that to the Mayors attention numerous times, but same old story there nothing happens.

    • Thomas,
      Welcome to The Grove Street Grumble! I recently wrote the Common Council about the City of Amsterdam website because it does not include postings of public meetings as required by NYS Public Officers Law. Sadly it has become a “look what I have done” campaign site for Thane’s reelection.

      The Ward map can also be found online at the Montgomery County website.

  3. Todd

    Jerry,

    First let me say, good job with the Blog, I had wondered where you were. Second, I couldn’t agree with you more on this issue. I have always wondered since I lived here why there wasn’t an annual bulk pick up. I believe there has been 1 in the 5 1/2 years I have been here. If you want the city to be kept clean, we need a reasonable way for the general public to have these items removed.
    This ordinance is nothing but trouble in the making. There does not seem to be anything about this that makes sense. I honestly didn’t know that it is set up now that you can arrange for things to be picked up by paying extra ahead of time. Maybe lack of awareness is as much of a problem as the rules now in place.
    Either way, annual spring bulk pick up needs to happen.

    • Todd,
      Welcome to The Grove Street Grumble! Last year I called City Hall to see what it would cost to have them pick up two old toilets that were left in my basement when I bought my house in 2009. The price quoted was $10. each. I think they made up the price on the fly as they had to call me back. According to the ordinance, a list of bulk items and special refuse along with fees is supposed to be posted in City Hall, Sanitation Division of DPW and published in the local newspaper. The fees and method of collection are supposed to be established by the Common Council. The overall responsibility for enforcement of the ordinance is with the City Engineer.

    • Diane

      The last major everything you want to get rid of was in 07 under Emanuel and I think it cost amost 100,000. That is a lot of money and hopefully the CC can find some way to schedule one for this fall. There is no money in this budget to cover an expense like that.

      • It does not have to cost that much. We need some common sense in this situation. We already pay for trash pick up. A general bulk pick up doesn’t have to happen all at once. It can be put on a schedule and spread out over a four or six week period so that no overtime is incurred. We have a new City Engineer, let him work out the logistics with the Common Council. What we do not need this added burden of liability placed on property owners. The whole ordinance needs to be rewritten as it contradicts itself in too many places.

  4. Rob

    Hey Jerry,

    Where I am, the city has a policy of calling them before putting “bulk” items for collection. If we call and let them know the day before, they will collect it with no addition fee. If you don’t call them beforehand, they will still pick it but, you will get a fine and they will charge you for each item they have to carry to the truck.

    I think every city has it’s issues with trash collection and in these hard economic times they are all looking for ways to defer costs. Unfortunately, those costs almost always get passed down to the taxpayers. In your case though, I believe your city council could have come up with a better idea and approach.

    • Alayne Wineberg

      Jerry,
      Was this passed by a unanimous decision? I am hoping that someone on the council had the capability to realize that this law is flawed! I too am advocate of a yearly or bi-yearly bulk item pick up, it will not only aid in the clean up of the city, but it would be great for taxpayer morale!

      p.s. great site!

  5. Alayne

    Let me guess, Wills and Leggiero were the two nays!

    • It was Aldermen Leggiero and Isabel that voted no.

    • Diane

      Alayne, the LL is flawed and it should have been discussed in committee. GD and the mayor put it up and there were comments creating some changes. The CC should keep a LL on the table a month for discussion and calls and then make a decision…….at least with the lengthy ones.

  6. Diane

    Jerry,

    The reason the cost was so high was due to the fee structure at MOSA and I would imagin the overtime. Streets were almost blocked they had so much stuff on them.
    You are right though, if people would put things out with their trash weekly, non fee items, then there would not be so much all at once. Unfortunately, I have heard all too many stories how some people just throw everything in the back yard and forget about it. This would be true of some of the absentee landlords who go thru 30 residents or more in a 5 year period. I cannot beleive the amount of stuff that has been left behind by tenents……..it is an absolute waste, but when you are on somebody else’s dime they do not care. Very sad indeed.

  7. Todd

    As you said Jerry, some streets were almost blocked which is partly due to the fact that this isn’t done each year. If it were done every year, there would be less to pick up and the cost would be lower as well.

  8. In any case we need to let the City Council know that we do not want this revision to the ordinance either by showing up at the public hearing, phoning or emailing the Alderman or Mayor.

  9. Scott

    They will never be able to enforce this ordinance. How will they determine whose items are on the curb of a 2-3 apt house? Time to contact my Alderman…and thank you for posting their contact information.

    • How long will an item sit on the sidewalk before it is picked up? Will you be charged for each day it sits there? There is no procedure in the ordinance to address this.

      We do not need more legislation, we need more enforcement.

  10. Alayne

    Jerry,
    Did I just read correctly that they want to impose a jail sentence on folks that put their garbage too early? LOL, just when you think you have heard everything.

    • It’s not quite as drastic as that, but penalties have been increased. The revised ordinance is attached to the post.

  11. Alayne

    Let’s hope not Jerry, but hey, you never know. This is part of the article published in the Gazette….the rest of the capital district must think this city is nuts. With all the problems we are facing, they are worried about this nonsense.

    “The ordinance requires garbage be stored behind the property line of the building by 6 p.m. on the day of collection.

    The law establishes a penalty of 15 days in jail, a $250 fine or both if residents who were already warned within the past 12 months continue to violate parts of the ordinance like leaving trash outside before 3 p.m. the day before collection, or not bringing the trash cans in by 6 p.m.

    The new law creates an “order to remedy violation” with an even more severe fine — $500 or 15 days in jail or both — if any issue is not corrected as specified in the order.”

  12. Alayne

    Yeah to the common council for trashing this silly law! Finally… common sense prevailed!

  13. Yes! The Common Council listens to their constituents. I hope the same consideration goes into any future ordinances. Sometimes it seems like they throw common sense to the wind. The people have the power this year as it is an election year.

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