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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Dear Editor,

Alderman at Large Joe O’Shaughnessy is the only one not playing politics when it comes to the issue of refuse and recycling.

O’Shaughnessy’s resolution would do 4 things: first, it directs that a new Refuse and Recycling RFP be issued,  Second, the new Request For Proposals would include as an alternative elimination of the city’s costly billing, payment processing and collection responsibilities for the service provider. Third, it directs the Director of Finance provide Council with an audit of revenues and expenses from 2011 to 2015, and fourth, it creates a new ad-hoc advisory board to advise the Council and the Mayor on matters of refuse and recycling. Let me speak to each of these points:

First, the State Comptroller’s 2014 audit harshly criticized the city for failing to rebid service and consulting contracts. It’s been almost 6 years since a refuse and recycling RFP was put out to bid. This is a multi-million dollar operation and the Council should not ignore the Comptroller’s advice. Any statement saying this is illegal or a violation of the city’s contract with Modern Disposal is simply untrue.

Secondly, the city’s current obligation to bill, process payments and collect for non-payment on behalf of the service provider is an administrative burden whose cost to the taxpayer in terms of personnel and materials does not even appear to be tracked by Director of Refuse & Recycling Paseri or anywhere in the budget. The City’s current obligation means General Fund tax dollars are used to subsidize this administrative process and pay for those who pay late or who never pay. O’Shaughnessy’s resolution would at least include an alternative to this taxing arrangement.

Thirdly, the 2011 Local Law creating the “Special Revenue Fund – Recycling & Refuse” required that any funds advanced from the City’s General Fund had to be completely repaid by the end of 2011. The Council should want to make sure this was done and see whether any other General Funds monies have been transferred to the Special Refuse and Recycling Fund and whether they have been fully repaid as required by law. O’Shaughnessy’s resolution directs the Finance Director provide the Common Council with an audit from 2011 to 2015 seems to be a no-brainer.

Fourthly, O’Shaughnessy’s resolution calls for creating an ad-hoc Advisory Board to investigate and advise the Council and Mayor on all matters relating to the city’s solid waste and recycling programs. O’Shaughnessy’s resolution also does one other important thing; it directs that responsibility for the City’s Refuse and Recycling programs fall under the supervision of the Deputy City Treasurer, a competitive Civil Service position, rather than the appointed City Clerk. The reason for this is simple; the Treasurer’s Office already performs 70% of the work associated with refuse and recycling so it only makes sense this million dollar a year operation belongs under the auspices of the Treasurers’ Office.

The public should not tolerate the withholding of any documents; nor purposely delay scrutiny into the lucrative refuse disposal and recycling contract until it’s too late. By then, the public loses and the special interests win.

Just ask yourself what politicians or what party benefits from that?

-- Roger L. Sherrie is a City of Lockport resident

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1 comment:

  1. City residents should be shocked at the backlash from this plans conception by The Alderman at Large. It's seems like a full court press against transparency and oversight (which their seems to be a glowing lack of in the Clerks Office). I haven't heard any one claim how Joe is wrong about the lack of a copy of the contract, or any accounting of the totes we paid a fortune for and continue to!! Such a weak attack by the former majority hangers-ons "Playing Politics at its worst" How Pathetic...


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