Monday, September 26th, 2016

County backs out of presentation on garbage fee

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Waukesha County Solid Waste Supervisor Karen Fiedler and Charìene Lemoine of the Waukesha Environmental Action League (WEAL) were scheduled to do a presentation on the pay-as-you-throw garbage fee at tonight’s city of Waukesha Public Works Board meeting and how to sell it to a skeptical public. As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s cub reporter wrote,

This topic of a pay-as-you-throw method (a quantity and recycling-based program) was first brought up last year when Mayor Jeff Scrima proposed a $136 garbage fee during last year’s lengthy budget process.

The fee was met with harsh criticism and that idea was shut down by the Finance Committee.

However, Scrima still felt, despite later calling the garbage fee “a mistake,” that a pay-as-you-throw method would be beneficial to the City of Waukesha.

Actually what was proposed last year was a flat fee as a revenue generator. When the debate turned on Scrima, that’s when he seized on the “pay-as-you-throw” idea to try to justify the proposed increase in revenue.

I asked Fred Abadi, the Public Works director, for an advanced copy of the presentation. The Power Point gives a one-sided portrait of the pay-as-you-throw garbage fees and explains how to build community support for such a plan.

When I forwarded it to Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas’ office and asked whether telling the city of Waukesha to impose a garbage fee was a good use of county resources, his chief of staff Shawn Lundie called me to say that Waukesha County would not be participating in tonight’s presentation. He agreed that the presentation was one-sided and it was not appropriate for county staff to be associated with it. He also told me that the county was invited to do the presentation by the city of Waukesha, although he was unclear who actually initiated the request.

An open records request by me to Mayor Jeff Scrima’s office revealed that he was invited to attend the presentation by Lemoine, but did not indicate that tonight’s scheduled presentation was his idea.

Scrima responded to my open records request the same day it was made. Other requests are pending.

It’s unclear at this time whether the presentation without Waukesha County’s involvement will still take place at tonight’s 6:30 PM meeting in room 207 of city hall.

Update 9:05 PM Here is a link to the Powerpoint presentation that was not made Thursday night: Pay As You Throw-Wauk PW 7-19-12[1].

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