Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency board members on Monday approved a $14.03 million 2013 budget carrying a 5.86 percent decrease of $874,212, but which will more than double the amount sought in taxpayer subsidies.These five towns -- Wawarsing, Saugerties, Rochester, Marbletown, and Marlborough -- represent about a quarter of the UC population, with about 50,000 residents between them, so the revenue collected from these five constitutes a big chunk of the 110-percent increase the agency is seeking from the taxpayers (though I couldn't find figures of exactly how much).
The spending plan was adopted during an agency board meeting, where officials said there would be $2.87 million sought from the county Legislature in net service fees representing a 110.02 percent increase of $1.5 million.
Officials said the figures can come down if the five remaining towns that have not signed one-year extensions to send municipal waste to the agency do so.
So, thanks, guys. What you're doing is raising everyone else's taxes while looking out for yourselves.
But I'll go it one further with these five towns. Put your money where your mouth is and just secede from the county. You can then declare yourselves independent republics!
That would be pretty stupid, huh? Nearly as stupid as a few towns playing politics with a needed service.
Look, folks, civilization isn't a cost-free thing. We pay taxes so that we can provide things the public needs -- primarily to ensure the free flow of commerce on which our economy depends, at least part of which involves properly disposing of our refuse.
But I don't have good feelings about the resolution to this situation. Apparently, the move now is to starve Ulster County and the RRA of these fees, which means the rest of us will pay more, which will of course have the effect of making people in the remaining towns angry that they have to pay more because of someone else. Sooner or later, then, the opponents of the UCRRA get what they want and the county and/or state shut it down.
And then we go back to the bad old days of corrupt waste-hauling companies having individual contracts with each municipality, when instead what we need is to completely redesign our waste system to ensure that we no longer squander our dwindling resources. Killing the UCRRA, which appears to be the plan, would set this process back a decade or more.
I think the opposite of the Liberty Coalition on this one: while they think government shouldn't be in the waste business, I think that, eventually, there should be no private companies in the waste business and that government is the only body with enough accountability to ensure that our refuse ends up where it should. This need for accountability will become even more acute in the future.
Frankly, I don't at present know how best to resolve this situation. But I do know this: these five municipalities (all of which have Republican supervisors; it makes you wonder whether this bunch are having secret meetings to coordinate strategy) think they're doing right by their towns, while at the same time they're doing wrong by their neighbors down the road -- and, even more important, doing wrong by the future of their children and grandchildren.