Williams weighs in on delay in trash fee bill
By G. Michael Dobbs
SPRINGFIELD -- City Councilor and mayoral candidate Bud Williams claimed last week that Mayor Domenic Sarno has manipulated the mailing of the trash fee bills to some time after the election to "create the illusion the trash fee doesn't exist."
Williams told Reminder Publications that some city residents, knowing the trash fee will end in 2011, might be confused into thinking the trash fee has ended now because of the lack of a bill at this time of year.
Sarno promised to end the trash fee during his campaign for mayor two years ago.
Sarno said that Williams' statements were "utterly ridiculous."
The mayor explained that delay in the bills was the planned switch from a quarterly bill to an annual bill.
Williams disputed that statement saying the Finance Control Board had approved the annual billing for the trash fee in September 2008. He questioned why the annual billing would take place now.
"Fool me once, shame on you Mr. Sarno. Fool me twice, shame on me," Williams said.
Williams said, "City hall needs a greater dose of transparency."
Sarno said that Williams was "grasping at straws."
Sarno said he has made progress toward reducing and then ending the fee. He noted the expense of capping two landfills -- priced at $2.8 and $4.5 million respectively -- prevented him from eliminating the fee.
Sarno also noted the mid-year budget cuts imposed by Gov. Deval Patrick have affected the city's budget.
The success of a single stream recycling pilot program -- in which residents merely put all recyclables in one bin rather than separate them -- has resulted in plans to extend the program throughout the city, Sarno added.
He said the implementation is "right around the corner."
The two men will meet for an hour-long debate Oct. 22 at the Rebecca Johnson School at 7 p.m.
Williams has opened his campaign headquarters at the office of the New England Region Carpenters Union, Local 108, at 29 Oakland St. and has received an endorsement from that union.
"What the carpenter's union sees in Bud is a man who believes in the city of Springfield, who is accessible to all of his constituents and who understands the needs of working people, their issues and their struggles," James Garand, business manager of Local 108, New England Regional Council of Carpenters, said. "Bud is a man of action who doesn't just give sound bytes."
Williams has also been endorsed by City Councilors Timothy J. Rooke, James J. Ferrera III, former City Council candidate Victor D vila and State Rep. Ben Swan, D-Springfield.