Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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December 4th, 2009

Waste fee bringing out taxpayer anger and rage

I don’t remember in recent memory when an issue has sparked as much anger as the pending waste fee. Taxpayers are understandably outraged and throughout Sullivan County one can hear that rage.

I have been inundated with emails and phone calls from readers of this column expressing concern and exasperation with County government. Clearly, the waste fee has sparked all this fury and disgust. It is the talk throughout Sullivan County. To some it appears to be the straw the broke the camel’s back.

Restaurant owners at the Liberty Diner and Bernie’s for example will openly tell you how fearful they are with the pending costs of the waste fees, and what it could mean to their businesses. As soon as you walk into his Farmer’s Market in Monticello, Kenny will let you know exactly what he thinks of our landfill debacle and Sullivan County government.

Everyone blames everyone else for the landfill albatross. Legislators point to the old Board of Supervisors, while former Supervisors place the fault at the door steps of the legislature.

In reality, County Manager David Fanslau and the legislature are finally dealing with our landfill dilemma.

Fortunately, members of the legislature are listening and are now saying they will support a “hybrid” fee structure, and possibly keep tipping fees while still adding a smaller user fee. But, this still does not eliminate the anger already on the minds of taxpayers.

Unfortunately, dealing with the problem is painful for taxpayers in an economically depressed region, and understandably leads to a great deal of exasperation and criticism.

One email I received over the weekend is a case in point, it stated, “I want to share two incidents from Friday the 27th. I checked with the closings for that day and all governments offices were to be opened. So, I loaded my car with our garbage and recyclables from our family feast on Thanksgiving, and went to the dump. I got there at 1:20 PM and it was locked up tight. At least 7 or 8 other cars came in also just in the 10 minutes it took me to realize that they just felt like the day off.”

The email continued, “From there, I went to the DMV and with a couple of other people who walked up to the door, we found it locked with a sign hand written and posted that they were closing at 12:30. I would like to know if all the workers got a full day’s pay! Everybody just seems to do as they please in this county.”

I discovered under union contracts offices are only open half a day on Black Friday, leading one to wonder if it is cost efficient to open these offices in the first place.

Another interesting email I received over the weekend said the problem with zero tipping fees was that there was no cost control, and labeled the plan “economic suicide.”

The irate taxpayer went on to write, “the alternative is keep the tipping fee, reduce the user fee to $100 per residential unit (eliminating the bungalow discount), and charge a nominal $1 per acre for vacant land, this would produce more revenue with no risk.”

“To compensate for the fee the County can give us the freedom to bring trash and hazardous waste at will anytime during the year. This convenience will at least make us feel better.”

People are beginning to question why the legislature doesn’t set up a special fee or assessment over a number of years to pay off the $40 million landfill debt.

Recycling has also become a topic of conversation as a means of producing revenue. If properly instituted, this is something that can continue after the $40 million debt is paid off.

All this sudden anger, questioning, and outspokenness amongst Sullivan County residents are really a good thing. Maybe once and for all our elected officials will listen to their constituents and finally put an end to business as usual.

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