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North Belle Vernon trashes garbage exceptions

| Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, 1:21 a.m.

North Belle Vernon borough council will no longer consider requests for payment exemptions for refuse bills.

“The fact of the matter is that Waste Management charges the borough on the amount of residences we have,” council President Dennis Simboli said at the Tuesday meeting.

“If you have a lot in this town and you don't have a house on it, you still pay taxes. Garbage collection is a service. Whether you want it or not, it's here.

“The truck goes up and down the street regardless if there's trash out, or not. That's the way Waste Management looks at it, and that's the way they charge us.”

Under its contract, the borough will pay the hauler $10,017 per year more in both 2014 and 2015. Residents pay the borough for the service and the borough pays the hauler.

“I understand the garbage bills are calculated on everybody in this borough, that's fine,” Councilman Brett Berish said.

“If we're going to do this, and it's just my opinion, if one person gets hammered then everybody gets hammered. If we're doing it by the book, then we're doing it by the book.

“I don't feel like life is black and white. There's things that happen in people's lives, and things come up. If we're going to be that way, that's fine.”

Simboli asked for a motion to do away with the exemptions and got it from Councilman John Ross. It passed, 6-0. Councilwoman Diann Donaldson was ill and did not attend the meeting.

“When we're giving exemptions, all we are doing is cutting the borough's throat,” Simboli said. “Everyone we've given an exemption to doesn't matter, because Waste Management isn't cutting us the slack.”

“We can't afford it anymore,” Mayor Ed Lyons said in his report. “That's money that we don't get. It's not just garbage, it's sewage, as well.

“Ultimately, it's the rest of us that are going to pay. It is a service. I've seen the refuse that is out on the sidewalks. If those people would have to pay to haul that stuff away, they'd be paying hundreds of dollars. It's couches, chests ... it's unbelievable what those refuse people pick up.

“And they do it at no extra cost to the borough.”

Lyons said the borough must continue to place liens on properties for which owners owe sewage payments.

The borough owes $6 million in loans through 2038 for what Lyons called the “ill-fated” sewer separation project. The monthly debt payment is $26,677.88.

“There are those in the borough that feel they have no obligation to the other taxpayers in shouldering their obligation to avoid others paying additional costs,” Lyons said. “Conducting the activities of the borough is a business, which leaves no room for an emotional outcome regarding decisions. The key word is service. It's here whether you need it or not. Every one of those apartments and houses are dollars and cents for the borough. My stand is this: There are no exemptions.”

In other business:

• Lyons said the Westmoreland County Redevelopment Authority will attend a Tuesday meeting to determine the amount of grant money available to the borough

• Lyons .said the new police department computer will be operational by Friday. It was obtained through a $5,000 grant.

• CouncilwomanBetty Shine-Hill said the Easter egg hunt will be 11 a.m. March 30 at Graham Street Park.

Jeremy Sellew is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jsellew@tribweb.com or 724-684-2667.

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