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Lawn debris fee raked out

Nisky residents accepting of new charge, worried about implementation

— Realizing $150,000 of revenue budgeted from a new lawn debris pick up fee could be feasible, if recent comments from Niskayuna residents resonate throughout town.

The Niskayuna Town Board held a public hearing on Thursday, Jan. 12, for a local law to establish new fees for the town picking up brush, grass, branches and other yard waste. The $30 lawn debris fee applies to every resident or property owner and would be applied by default.

A resident would have to take action to waive the fee and refuse the town’s service. Every property owner wishing to waive the fee would have to file a notice with the town clerk prior to March 15 every year.

Most residents speaking during the public hearing appeared willing to pay the new $30 fee, but there were concerns expressed over implementation and enforcement of residents abusing the system.

“I do have some concerns nonetheless,” said resident Leslie Gold. “What about neighbors who opt out and then decide to make use of somebody else’s privilege … because I have already had a problem with a neighbor adding to my containers.”

Town Highway Superintendent Frank Gavin said residents could possibly take advantage of others, but he is hopeful only “a minimal number of residents” would opt out due to the “low” fee.

“I guess we’ll have to regulate it and if the neighborhood police are out there and somebody does call then we’ll investigate it,” Gavin said. “It is impossible for us to go around and check.”

Councilwoman Denise Murphy McGraw assured the public that town officials have discussed enforcement procedures and the plan has evolved from handing out leaf decals to the current policy.

“We have also talked about Frank’s staff trying to keep a handle on who’s in, who’s out, if neighbors are kind of taking advantage of other neighbors and things like this,” McGraw said. “We talked about all of these over a course of the better part of a year … this has been an evolving process and we will probably talk about it again six months from now and we will see where we are.”

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