Mayor James Sottile, under pressure to produce a 2012 budget that comes in below a state-mandated 2 percent property tax hike cap, said that he may eliminate municipal trash collection. The move would force city residents to hire private haulers or make their own dump runs.
“I’m running the numbers right now and it looks like that is the direction we’re going to be forced to go in,” said Sottile, who added that he has not made a final decision on the issue.
The proposal calls for increasing hours at the city’s transfer station to six days per week by reassigning four of the 10 Department of Public Works employees currently assigned to trash pickup. The remaining six trash workers would be reassigned to other duties within the department. The savings, Sottile said, would come in the form of roughly $700,000 in tipping fees currently paid to the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency to dispose of municipal trash. Those costs would essentially be passed on to city residents who would have to hire a private waste disposal company, or pay their own transfer station fees.
“Unfortunately, we’re to a point now where we are reducing services,” said Sottile. “We have no choice.”
Sottile, who is not running for re-election, said a new state law which caps annual property tax hikes at 2 percent has made cuts in services inevitable. The law, signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this year, takes effect in 2012. According to Sottile, Kingston will need to cut $1.7 million from current spending levels to comply with the cap. The law contains a significant loophole, though — municipalities can exceed the cap with a supermajority vote of a governing body. In Kingston’s case, six of nine council members would need to vote to exceed the tax cap. Sottile, who has until October to present a draft budget to the Common Council, said he intends to produce a spending plan in line with the tax cap, even if it means instituting unpopular cuts.