Trash subsidy will not be trashed

From the inbox:

Mayor Sylvester Turner

Mayor Sylvester Turner

After weighing the budgetary impact and obtaining input from City Council, Mayor Sylvester Turner has decided not to pursue elimination of subsidies to homeowners associations that opt out of City trash collection services.

Under the program, which began in the 1970s, the City pays a monthly $6 per household subsidy to homeowners associations that contract for more expensive trash collection service from private haulers. Elimination of the subsidy was predicted to save the City $3.5 million annually, but only if the homeowners groups stuck with their private haulers.

“Many of the neighborhood associations have indicated they will request City collection if the subsidy is abandoned,” said Mayor Turner. “As a result, we are now looking at increased costs as opposed to the savings that had originally been anticipated. Therefore, it no longer makes sense to pursue this at this time. We can balance the budget without it.”

Elimination of the trash subsidy was one of several options put forth to help close a projected $160 million budget shortfall in Fiscal Year 2017, which begins July 1. City Council will consider the budget on May 25, a full month earlier than normal. Mayor Turner has requested early approval to send a strong message to the credit rating agencies about the attention the City’s fiscal challenges are getting from City Hall.

See here for the background. I was rooting for this to be killed, but if the numbers say it will cost more than it will save, then so be it. That doesn’t mean we can’t plan to phase it out over the next few years, however. I’d like to see that on the table going forward. The Chron story has more.

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2 Responses to Trash subsidy will not be trashed

  1. Candace says:

    My neighborhood uses private collection and yes, we are spoiled. Having had city pick-up previously, there is no comparison. There are homes in our neighborhood which the city won’t pick up because the trucks don’t fit in the alleys. This is a small percentage of the homes, however it is still a barrier that would need to be addressed by the city. I am sure this will come up again in the future.

  2. Steve Houston says:

    One way to save $85 million or so a year would be for the city to adopt the practice of the county. That would allow the end of the subsidy, eliminate all that reported “government waste”, and allow neighborhoods to pay for whatever level of trash service they desire, including recycling if they want it. We constantly hear how financially savvy the county is in this regard, providing less services so the market can attend to them for a sizable markup in price, the true cost of city service being far below what the private sector offers. I’m not advocating doing so but it does help put things in perspective, friends typically paying Waste Management 4x as much to get service twice a week (some paying more).

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