continued “As far as the public was concerned, they didn’t know about this,” McKinney said.
Landry said the idea for the notarization requirement wasn’t something “that has shown up at the last minute” and had been discussed for “a period of time” during the six-month development process.
Landry said there are “plenty” of notaries at Town Hall at the Town Clerk’s Office that would provide the service free of charge. He didn’t believe it would deter residents from opting out.
“I would feel safe knowing that it has to be notarized and that someone is not opting out for me,” Landry said. “This is just normal document authentication that we thought would be necessary.”
Residents are automatically enrolled for the service each year and the opt-out process must be completed each year if a property owner wants to decline the service. The deadline to opt out is March 15.
The loose-leaf pickup during the fall will still be done for all residents and isn’t included in the fee. The town will still provide yard waste collection after “major weather events,” such as Tropical Storms Irene and Lee.
The Town Board approved the new lawn debris fee by a 3-1 vote on Tuesday, Jan. 24, with McKinney dissenting. Councilwoman Liz Orzel Kasper was absent from the meeting.
In the 2012 Town Budget, the board approved a new revenue line totaling $150,000 to be received through the lawn debris fee. Details of the fee were finalized following the budget adoption. At $30 per property owner, the town would need at least 5,000 people to pay the fee to meet the revenue expectation.
According to 2010 census data, the town has 8,645 housing units occupied, with 361 units vacant. Of the occupied housing units, 6,967 (80.6 percent) are owner-occupied. If 72 percent of owner-occupied housing units paid the fee, the quota would be met.
Landry has previously said since the town won’t know where the debris is coming from it is “basically assuming that everybody is going to be honest” in putting out only their own lawn debris. The town is relying on residents to inform them of any problems with neighbors.
McKinney continues to claim the fee is a method to counter budget shortfalls outside of the yard waste collection service.
“I think that this was a way to extract money from the residents either by force or voluntarily to help balance the budget,” McKinney said.