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Published: Wednesday, 9/5/2012

City plans to absorb rise in trash pickup cost

Official says 3% hike will not be passed on

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Steve Herwat. Steve Herwat.
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Toledoans faced another boost in the cost of trash collection this month, but Bell administration officials Tuesday said the city would absorb the increase.

Deputy Mayor Steve Herwat told Toledo City Council the contractually obligated 3 percent increase owed to Republic Services would equal about $80,000 through the end of 2012 and $250,000 for 2013.

"As you heard last week, income taxes are up, and the mayor at this time doesn't believe higher fees are appropriate," Mr. Herwat said.

Last year, Republic Services began the city's garbage collection. The switch to private trash collection, which was facilitated through a contract with Lucas County, is expected to save the city $2.8 million in 2011 and up to $6 million this year.

The five-year deal with Republic, with an option to renew for up to five more years, includes an annual 3 percent increase and a separate increase if the cost of diesel fuel exceeds $4 a gallon for the company, which buys it in bulk.

Toledo residents pay $8.95 a month, except for those who qualify for a homestead exemption. They pay $5 a month.

Councilman D. Michael Collins objected Tuesday to Mr. Herwat unilaterally promising that the city would absorb the cost before asking for council approval.

Mr. Collins said Mayor Mike Bell needs to ask permission since the amount is more than $10,000.

"As we approach the mayoral election year 2013, clearly the administration wants to keep this off the books and transfer it to the general fund, which we have no space in whatsoever," Mr. Collins said. "This is nothing more than a political shell game."

Also Tuesday, Mayor Bell said he would withdraw a proposed ordinance he sent to council last month that would have barred all mayoral and council candidates from accepting contributions from city employees, their family members, and their unions.

The move puts to rest a back-and-forth battle between Mr. Bell and Councilman Steven Steel. It started after the mayor submitted legislation to raise the salary ranges for executive employees -- those not covered by unions -- by 18 to 20 percent.

Mr. Steel followed that with a public call to Mr. Bell to pledge to refuse contributions from the employees who report to him and whose salaries he sets.

Tuesday, Mr. Bell said he would withdraw the ordinance if Mr. Steel withdrew the pledge request. After Mr. Steel refused, Mr. Bell said he would pull the ordinance and added that he "has no intention of signing the pledge."

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171.



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