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City lawmakers hold line on garbage tax

WBFO News file photo

Buffalo Common Council members voted Tuesday for a measure which is supposed to block an increase in the city's garbage user fee.

The garbage tax, which pays for trash collections, has been millions of dollars in the red for years. It is subsidized from other city cash sources.

There is no support for raising the fee because it's such a politically sensitive tax.   

Tuesday's decision by city lawmakers was a chance to look at other sources of cash. This time, it's putting some restrictions on people who take large amounts of trash to the transfer station on South Ogden.

Council Majority Leader Demone Smith said the new controls go after people who take tons of trash.

"We're going to actually start charging fees on the people in the residence who reside in the city. They will get no charge for the first ton per year per residential unit. What happens is people may own a couple houses so they will get one ton per unit so you end with three or four tons. So people were disposing of the garbage for free," said Smith.

Smith says those city homeowners simply dump everything at the transfer station. By limiting the free dumping, he says it may persuade those owners of multiple homes to recycle more of what they are getting rid of which saves the city money and might save a lot of money.


Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.