Down in the Dump: Council Mulling New Policy for Private Condominium Trash Removal

After residents along Quarry Lane pleaded for help due to language in existing ordinances that left them ineligible for trash collection or rebate, members of the Berlin Town Council took action to correct the wrong.

When Berlin resident Sharon Orlich approached the council in December, she was seeking help in getting a basic need that her and others who purchased condominiums in town after 2007 had no options for: simple trash removal.

Now the Berlin Town Council is responding in force, proposing an ordinance change that would establish a fair and equitable solution designed to assure that the same level of trash removal service is being offered to every taxpayer in the community.

The council on Tuesday evening will hold a hearing into changes to an existing ordinance that would, if passed, effectively eliminate a requirement that prevented certain condominium associations that conduct private trash and refuse disposal from collecting the same financial assistance offered to other residents of the community.

“As taxpayers, we are a significant financial benefit to the community,” Orlich said. “We pay taxes on fair market value but require fewer services with snow removal, pick-up, emergency and trash collection. This rebate pales in comparison to what the town saves.”

Under the old ordinance, the language prevented existing condominium associations established after 2007 from applying to receive partial reimbursement for private pick-up. Such reimbursement, not to exceed the per unit rate for the town to conduct collection, was offered to those associations established before that time, however.

Orlich told council members that the language rendered the ordinance “unfair” by requiring Berlin taxpayers who use minimal services to pick p their own tab for trash removal without any other options.

“(The ordinance) creates a subclass of homeowners treated differently,” Orlich said. “The distinction (of eligibility) is based on an arbitrary date. Bearing the full cost of collection while also subsidizing through taxes the cost for thousands of others in town is unfair.”

The changes proposed to the ordinance would limit reimbursements to levels at or below the annual cost budgeted for public collection per residential unit. Private collections will still need to be administered by individual condominium associations and any cost in excess of those for public collection would fall on the shoulders of the association.

The proposed ordinance reads as follows:

Subject to annual appropriation by the Town Council through the annual budgetary process and upon application made to the Town Manager by any association of unit owners of residential condominiums located within the town’s territorial limits, the town, on Sept. 1 of each year, may pay to each association, which is paying a private contractor for solid waste and recycling collections and disposal, an amount up to, but not to exceed, the town’s per unit cost for providing solid waste and recycling collection and disposal to existing residential units as determined by the department of public works at the end of the prior fiscal year.

The amount of reimbursement to each eligible association shall be determined by multiplying the per unit appropriation authorized in the annual budget each year by the number of condominium units which, on Oct. 1 of the prior fiscal year, had been conveyed by the declarant of such condominium pursuant to G.S. 47-72, 47-220 or 47-223. The amount of reimbursement per unit authorized by the Town Council through the budgetary process may increase or decrease annually and shall not exceed the town’s per unit cost for existing residential units regardless of the actual cost to the condominium association for private collection and disposal.

The Berlin Town Council public hearing will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at Berlin Town Hall, 240 Kensington Road, and is open to the public.

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Dave Duchesne January 28, 2014 at 12:08 PM
All homeowners at Regency, Westview, Silver Island, Sherwood, Beckley Farms and Hatchery Brook will potentially benefit from this proposed change. Please consider speaking in favor of this change at the public hearing which will be held on Tuesday January 28 at 6:30 p.m. on the 3rd floor of the town hall.


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