NISKAYUNA Niskayuna residents seeking to opt out of paying the new lawn debris fee might have noticed a surprise extra step.
Homeowners were mailed letters two weeks ago explaining the new lawn debris fee and received a bill for the annual $30 charge. On the reverse side of the bill was a form to opt out from the fee and requires homeowners to have their signature notarized.
Councilman Jonathan McKinney said the notarization requirement adds another unnecessary step for residents declining the service, which could further dissuade people from opting out.
“If people work, when do you have time to do something like that to get out of something you didn’t want in the first place?” McKinney said.
McKinney said the requirement could lead to some people getting more irritated by the fee, but other residents “are just going to say … ‘This is too much trouble and I don’t like it but I am just going to go with it.’”
Supervisor Joe Landry said the requirement is an extra step to ensure property owners desiring the service receive it. A notarization to opt out of such a program is not legally required. He said someone else could send the form in maliciously to stop the service to a resident without his or her knowledge.
“We wanted to be very sure of who didn’t want it,” Landry said. “If somebody filled it out for someone else, whether it was a neighbor having a dispute or a landlord tenant issue … someone could actually fill a form out and mail it in.”
McKinney wasn’t persuaded by that reasoning, calling Landry’s argument “laughable.” He said an easy solution to the problem would simply require a resident to call the town and have their name added to the list.
He also said there wasn’t any mention before the public hearing on Thursday, Feb. 23, of the notarization being a requirement and it was unknown to him before he received his bill.