Letter: Reader encourages residents to look at trash fee closely

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Editor,

Noblesville residents need to look closely at the city’s proposed new “trash fee.” I may be wrong, but I strongly suspect it has been presented to us in a way that is misleading.

The mayor states that “the city has always paid for residents to have trash and recycling for free.” What? We’ve always been paying for this through our property taxes. Plain and simple, we’re being asked to pay twice! It hasn’t been “free.”

It’s further misleading in that information is omitted. The city seems to hide the fact that the fee increases every year until 2020.

Mayor Ditsler stated they “have done their best running a lean government.” Is that what he calls it when the city gives $3 million dollars to a new business being built next to Federal Hill Park? That money would have paid for a lot of trash pickup.

We have wonderful parks in our city. I understand that building Federal Hill Park will have its advantages. I like proposed concerts, playgrounds and the Farmers Market, but don’t these expenses illustrate how easily the city spends monies on “wants”, not “needs?” Consider the roundabouts. I like roundabouts, but do we need so many? Some have necessitated the tearing up of perfectly good, expensive roadwork.

Because of past spending, we need to know more about how the fee will be used. They’ve said it will “improve the downtown infrastructure … tree replacement program … support of law enforcement … crime prevention efforts … road repaving and sidewalk repair…” We need language limiting how the trash money can be used. What’s to stop it being used for an “incentives” for a new downtown business, or even roundabouts on all four downtown corners? Would these be considered “improving the downtown infrastructure?”

Personally, I have a fear that if this new fee passes, the city won’t try very hard to negotiate fees with our trash collector because it won’t be part of their budget. Instead, it’ll be our problem.

The city put out a news release that says, “It is worth noting that homeowners will pay less with a trash fee and tax caps then they would if caps did not exist.” This sounds fine unless you stop to think about it. The purpose of the tax cap is to limit the amount local governments and most school districts can increase property taxes. So, if more money is wanted, our city decides to add a “fee” rather than a “tax.” This blatantly goes against the intent of the tax cap! Who’s to say that, as the city wants more and more money, we taxpayers won’t see added “fees” for the fire department, policy protection, parks and salary increases for the mayor?

Initially, the 50 percent “65 and older” discount for the new fee also seems like a good thing. A survey of some of my “over 65” friends revealed that not a single one knew about being eligible for a property tax discount, which means they wouldn’t get the trash fee discount either. Do you think seniors will get a refund for the past property taxes they didn’t have to pay? If the city wants to look good for giving this discount, then it needs to work to help the eligible people know and apply for it.

I’ve heard the argument that it’s only $10, which might otherwise be wasted on snacks or whatever. True for some but certainly not for everyone. As is, the family with a full-time job or two and maybe three or four children will pay just as much as a single person with limited income who only puts trash out once a month because it takes a month to fill it.  I’d like to know if the trash fee can be apportioned according to usage. I’d like to know if it can be shared between the city and its residents.

I find it disturbing that this added “fee” (i.e. tax) would immediately be put before a council with several new members.  They haven’t had time to study in detail how this all works. They might have more hesitation about asking opposing questions because they aren’t “experienced” yet. I hope it’s not because they’re more pliable now then they’ll ever be.

Lastly, why didn’t a hint of this “fee” come up prior to the election?  It’s bragged that more and more businesses and families are moving into our town. Isn’t this supposed to translate to “Noblesville residents have it better than before?” If all these families and businesses pay taxes, isn’t that suppose to be good for the city’s budget? Apparently not.

Now, if I saw an officeholder refuse to take a recently passed salary increase, I might believe there’s nowhere else new money can come from. However, it’s the manner in which this new trash fee has been presented to us that makes me suspicious. I don’t like the way we’re being treated.

Please consider and explore these issues. Voice your concerns at the next regular city council meeting on Jan. 26th.

Susan Mayes
Noblesville


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