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Nisky rakes in lawn fees

Fewer than expected opt out of debris pick up fee

— When a lawn debris pick up fee was first proposed last year, it became a contentious issue in the Town of Niskayuna. It turns out only about one in 10 homeowners opted out of the program, though.

The town sent out 7,387 bills to property owners this year and 990, or 13.5 percent, have opted out of the service as of Tuesday, Oct. 9. Town Clerk Michele Martinelli said a few residents changed their minds and paid the fee after opting out.

Niskayuna Supervisor Joe Landry said he was happy a large majority of residents continue to use the lawn debris pick up service.

“We thought that this was a fee that was necessary to continue to provide this service,” Landry said. “We were hoping that a majority of the people would be willing to pay. … It seems that a lot of residents wanted to continue this service.”

Councilman Jonathan McKinney, who voted against the fee, said the fee is realistic but the process is what bothered him.

“I think people understand paying for it, it was the process,” he said. “What people were upset about was there wasn’t much notice there was going to be a fee.”

McKinney didn’t opt out of the fee because his family uses the service, he said.

In January, the Niskayuna Town Board by a vote of 3-1 approved establishing a new fee for the town to pick up brush, grass, branches and other yard waste. Every resident or property owner is charged the $30 annual fee by default.

Every property owner wishing to avoid the fee and refuse the town’s service must file a notice with the town clerk prior to March 15 every year; otherwise, the fee will be charged every year it isn’t waived.

Homeowners opting out must also have their signature notarized, though that is not legally required for such a program. Landry previously said the measure was taken to ensure someone doesn’t maliciously stop the service to a resident without his or her knowledge.

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