ShareThis Page
News

Riverview Homes battling West Mifflin over garbage fee

Jason Cato
| Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

A West Mifflin community that opened seven decades ago with first lady Eleanor Roosevelt distributing keys to its first residents doesn't like the new deal borough officials want to impose over garbage services.

Residents of Riverview Homes Housing Association and their lawyer on Wednesday urged borough council to reconsider a decision to halt trash collection and recycling in 2013 unless the borough gets about $10 per month for each of the 450 residential units built in 1941 as a Defense Department housing project — or more than $50,000 a year.

“It's really going to hurt our people up here,” said Francis Waszkiewicz, 60, president of the homeowners association and a Riverview Homes resident for 38 years. “We mostly have senior citizens on fixed incomes who can't afford what the borough is trying to do.”

West Mifflin has had an ordinance since 1990 requiring commercial, industrial, business and residential units with more than four dwellings to pay the fee for garbage collection, borough manager Brian Kamauf said.

Officials investigated whether Riverview Homes paid for garbage collection after someone complained, he said.

In October, the borough sent letters to Riverview Homes and 37 other property owners informing them of the ordinance and that they would have to pay starting in 2013. Only Riverview Homes formally complained, Kamauf said.

“To be honest, we just missed them in previous years,” Kamauf said. “We're just trying to do the right thing. It's not popular, obviously. But we're trying to be fair across the board.

“We're just trying to cover our costs,” he said. “We're not trying to pave roads with this money.”

Last year, West Mifflin paid $1.46 million for sanitation and recycling, he said.

Riverview homeowners founded a not-for-profit association in 1955. Property owners today pay approximately $350 each month for sewer, water, landscaping, common maintenance and taxes.

Last year, residents paid approximately $250,000 in taxes, including about $9 a month to West Mifflin, said property manager David Hummel. Riverview Homes operates as a cooperative, with owners buying into the not-for-profit corporation and paying $7,500 for their unit, he said. Between 1,000 and 1,300 people live there.

“What we've had for free for 60 years, they now want to charge us for,” said Max Beier, a lawyer representing the homeowners. “The borough didn't talk to us, didn't do any study. They're just trying to ram it through.”

At least two council members questioned whether the ordinance should be examined and possibly rewritten to exclude Riverview Homes and similar property owners. The council could vote as early as next week.

Beier asked for a 90-day grace period if the council votes to charge for garbage collection so an appeal can be filed.

Jason Cato is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7936 or jcato@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me