Monday, February 12, 2007

Garbage Hike on the Horizon

In today's NY Times the paper reports (echoing a Crain's news item from a couple of months ago) on the fact that the city is looking at whether or not the current garbage rate cap deserves to be scrapped. This evaluation, spurred on by the private carting industry, is said to be needed because, not only has the old mob cartel been elimimated and competition been restored but, in addition, disposal costs have escalated considerably.

All of this is what we had predicted months ago when we first got wind of the initiative. What is missing, however, from the Times story is the extent to which the elimination of the cap would seriously hurt local food stores and restaurants. We find it curious that the paper never bothered to check this impact out, because if it did than it would have been discovered that the lifting of restrictions on "wet" waste in 2003 doubled and in some cases tripled the disposal costs for this sector.

What is also newsworthy is the fact that since the cartel was eliminated disposal costs have escalated beyond the so-called mob tax levels of 1996! Spare us from the benefits of all of this new found competition. What kind of impact would the elimination of the cap produce? Well, that is what the city's consultant has been charged with discovering. But, as we have already discussed with EDC, the consultant needs to consult with the retailers as well as carters if the study is to be fair and balanced.

Of further interest in the Times piece was the comments of Councilman Mike McMahon, who chairs the council's solid waste committee. McMahon told the paper that, "'I don't think we've been convinced that there's the need to remove the cap,'...He added that he was concerned about the effect of a sharp rise in carting charges. 'If there's a dramatic increase, it could really hurt small business.'"

Of course, Mike didn't say that a dramatic increase would also focus attention on the fact that the small businesses that he is so concerned about today were sold out by the deal made between the council and the mayor to not initiate a pilot program for food waste disposers. The use of these disposers would obviate the calamitous impact of any rate hike and would create a win-win situation even if the cap were removed.