Riverview Homes battling West Mifflin over garbage fee
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.