NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – Former city council candidate Stephen Mayo announced that he filed an Article 78 lawsuit with intentions of cancelling an increased residential garbage fee during a press conference in front of city hall on Tuesday.
"When they say, we only raised taxes 5 or 6 percent, ignoring the fee which is the equivalent of 8 or 9 percent, is to me bad law and it's abuse of our language,” said Mayo, a citizen activist. "This is a tax, justify it as a tax, and raise the cap. I think it's fair.”
The city council chose not to go above the state-mandated tax cap or over the 3.68 percent maximum allowed by the cap. The city proposed raising the per unit garbage fee from $66 to $223 per year to cover shortfalls in revenue during talks pertaining to the 2012 budget. Seniors who qualify will continue to pay $30 per unit per year.
"I'm just one taxpayer," Mayo said. "Taking on city government is kind of a David versus Goliath proposition, but I believe that when taxpayers see how outrageous this fake 'fee-tax' is, this issue will gain attention and support and we can work together as an informed and mobilized citizen group to stop this 'slight of hand' type of accounting in our city budget."
Mayo also felt that more could have been cut before the budget was finalized in areas such as administrative expenses including layoffs and four-day workweeks.
The high garbage fee is commonplace in other communities besides New Rochelle according to New Rochelle City Manager Charles Strome, III.
"The lawsuit is without merit,” Strome said. “The fee is not new, it's not unique to New Rochelle and the amount being charged covers the total cost of refuse collection and disposal.”