LYNN — It’s taken a year, but bills for the newly-imposed trash fee will finally be mailed next week.
Last June, City Council President Darren Cyr pleaded with the 11-member panel to charge property owners for garbage pick-up.
At the time, he told his fellow councilors, “The city is in such a financial mess … we need to do something.”
While the $90 annual fee was expected to raise $2 million annually to help relieve the city’s financial troubles under former Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, bills were never sent.
Peter Caron, the city’s chief financial officer, blamed the delay on two factors. The original fee, passed last summer, was a logistical nightmare, he said, because it was only imposed on out-of-town landlords. Since the city had no way to determine who should get the bills, they were never mailed, he said.
The original ordinance was unworkable, he said, because there were so many exemptions. For example, owner- occupants were not charged for their unit, but if they owned a multi-family dwelling, the other units were subject to the fee.
To reduce the confusion, the council approved a home rule petition in February for a $90 annual trash fee to all homeowners. Those changes made it a lot easier to send bills, he said.
The measure also included a provision to borrow $14 million to fill the budget hole.
But Caron said the bills have not yet been issued because he was crafting the 2019 budget.
“I couldn’t deal with the trash fee, I was spending all my time on the budget,” he said.
Now, Caron said, the bills are set to go out next week.
To be fair, he said, taxpayers should know the revenues from the trash fees were not included in the fiscal year 2018 budget, but have been added to the 2019 budget, which starts on July 1.
“The budget’s done, the tax bills are out, now we can focus on the trash fee,” he said. “There’s only so much we can do, I can’t sleep here at night.”
Mayor Thomas M.McGee declined comment. Cyr did not return a call seeking comment.