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Editorial: A pile of garbage (fees)

Here’s a few examples of documents and actions that require an official notary: depositions, marriage licenses, oaths of office, opting out of the Town of Niskayuna’s lawn debris collection fee.

What’s that last one, you say? Glad you asked. Niskayuna’s recently implemented debris removal fee is going into action. It’s a $30 charge to residents for the collection of the summer and fall debris that used to be part of the town’s budget and thus the tax bill, but was broken out this year as a $150,000 separate fee.

The debate over the debris fee has gone on for weeks and months now, but the Town Board OK’d the measure in January. Now, in a peculiar ripple, residents are finding that rather than simply mailing in a form to decline the service (and the fee) they’ll have to head down to Town Hall or another location to have the form officially notarized.

Putting any argument about the fee itself aside, we’d say the town is being needlessly bureaucratic here. Supervisor Joe Landry told us the concern stems from the possibility a homeowner could be maliciously opted out of the service by another person.

Good thing the supervisor has that kind of foresight. We can imagine the scene now. Mr. Smith, a disheveled, deformed man hunches over a slip of paper at his kitchen table. The room is dark, the curtains drawn. Suddenly he sits up and unleashes a long, wavering cackle! We see the lawn debris fee opt out form before him, but wait! It isn’t Mr. Smith’s name on the form at all! It’s that of Mr. Johnson, from next door.

Mr. Smith shakes his fist angrily.

“That’ll show you to not return my hedge clippers, Johnson!”

A bolt of lightning cuts across the sky.

A week later, when Johnson’s leaves aren’t collected, he calls up the town and quickly straightens the matter out by pointing out the fact he’s paid up. His leaves are collected.

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