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City collects trash barrels from home owners who failed to pay fee

By Natasha Clark

Assistant Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD City residents who have failed to pay their annual $90 per barrel trash fee will have their barrel taken by the Department of Public Works (DPW).

On Aug. 19 DPW workers were armed with a list of home owners who had failed to pay and as they made the rounds of their regular trash pick-up routes, the barrels were collected as well.

DPW Director Al Chwalek said the department has an extra crew that is out there collecting the barrels and as of press time the city had approximately 1,000 more to collect.

"A number of people have come in and paid the fee," Chwalek said, since their barrel was seized.

In a released statement, Mayor Domenic J. Sarno said, "Unfortunately, the business of trash collection and disposal is a very large ticket item and the city simply cannot shoulder the finances without this fee. But we are actively looking at alternatives with a concentration on finding a solution that is most cost effective for not only residents, but also the city."

Chwalek thinks that the fee works. "It's a very reasonable cost to help offset the the cost of picking up and disposing trash," he said.

City Council Vice President James J. Ferrera plans on presenting council members with a Home Rule Petition to the Massachusetts Legislature and Governor for their consideration at their next meeting on Sept. 8.

Ferrera would like to see the trash fee made tax deductible. He asked the law department to review the feasibility of drafting a home rule petition with the following language: "Whereas, when a City adopts the provisions of Massachusetts General Laws authorizing a so called "trash fee;" and Whereas, when such fee was previously part and parcel of the property tax liability of property owners in the City of Springfield; Now Therefore, said fee shall be deemed deductible for tax purposes in the same classification as the property tax and excise taxes for the citizens of Springfield."

"This home rule petition would allow tax payers to claim [the trash fee] since there was no trash fee two years ago," Ferrera said. "The trash collection was part and parcel to property tax. Since it was part of property taxes, if we can create a petition and file it to the state legislature we could pass along a tax write off for the actual $90 fee."

Ferrera said he has always been a staunch opponent to the trash fee. "I am for eliminating the trash fee. If that's falling on deaf ears then we need to be creative to find ways to eliminate the extra tax burden that we continue to pass on to taxpayers," he said. "The cost of living is skyrocketing. Everyone is trying to save every penny that they can hang on to."