Village of Homer to crack down on improper recycling and garbage disposal

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“Blatant” negligence from some residents have caused thousands of dollars in recycling fines and increased tipping fees for the village of Homer, according to deputy mayor Pat Clune.

This has prompted the village’s board of trustees to approve new measures of compliance.

At Tuesday’s board of trustees meeting, the board unanimously approved a resolution that could potentially impose $100 fees for residents who do not properly recycle items, or willingly dispose of garbage in their recycling bins.

“We are still having nonstop problems with people putting garbage in the recycling bins,” Village mayor Hal McCabe said. “It gets to the recycling center, and because Cortland is not operating the center in the way they ought to be, there is no sorting. We get charged a fine and we get charged the tipping fee to dump the recycling in the garbage so it is going to make everyone's taxes go up basically. We have to crack down on this.”

Over the last two weeks, Clune said the village has been presented with more than $1,000 in fines. 

“If we extrapolate that, we are paying $26,000 extra that we shouldn’t be,” he added. “Some of this stuff is blatantly obvious, like powertools and cat treats. This is not ‘my bad’, this is blatant.”

The new policy means department of public works and codes staff will be checking recycling cans for trash, McCabe said. He added that he expects staff to start spot-checking this week. If staff find non-compliance they will issue a warning letter to the resident. 

After the first warning letter, residents will have to pay a fine of $100. Residents will also be fined if they attempt to dispose of ineligible items and have items “left at the curb that shouldn’t be,” according to McCabe. Letters will also be issued starting this week, he added.

McCabe said in total the village has been paying penalties for improper recycling for a year, somewhere in the range of $8,000 to $10,000. That estimation does not include any increase in tipping fees from contractor Syracuse Haulers.

“A few bad apples cost the village a fortune in fines and increased tipping fees, which make the cost of trash collection increase. (It also) means higher taxes to cover the loss,” McCabe said.

Clune encouraged residents to stop by the village office to collect information cards regarding what constitutes recyclable items. He added he would like Chris Spadolini, the county’s recycling coordinator, to attend the first village board meeting in January to educate residents on the matter.

The board may revisit their approach to garbage collection. They will look to take more control on the matter, McCabe said.

“I would like to have a group of us sit down and start going through this again to bring this back in house,” he said. “We’d be able to provide better service for less money.”

The following are some garbage disposal recommendations found on Syracuse Haulers’ website:

  • Make sure that your recycling is clearly separated from your trash
  • Each household may have up to eight 32-gallon bags of trash (weighing no more than 50 pounds each) set out for collection each week. Excess quantities will not be collected
  • There is no limit to the quantity of recyclables that can be set out for collection
  • Recyclables should be placed in blue bins or clearly marked containers bearing the word “Recycling” or the universal recycling symbol
  • Cardboard boxes should be broken down and flattened. Large size cardboard should be cut down to measure no larger than 3-feet long by 3-feet wide.
  • Large amounts of cardboard, which do not fit in a blue bin, should be tied in bundles no bigger than 3-feet long by 3-feet wide.

These are items that should not be in either garbage or recycling hauls, according to Syracuse Haulers:

  • Yard waste, such as lawn trimmings, branches, logs, brush, or leaves. (Note: Village of Homer has a yard waste program)
  • Construction or demolition debris.
  • Electronic waste, such as TV’s, audio/video equipment, etc.
  • Auto parts, appliances, furniture, carpeting, pool covers, etc.
  • Hazardous and flammable materials, such as petroleum products, pesticides, liquid paint, fluorescent tubes, etc.