Thursday, February 28, 2008

Toledo Refuse Fee Complaint

Over the past year, I was increasingly convinced the Refuse Fee imposed on property owners in Toledo on April 28, 2007, was not legal. My gut instinct just does not accept that the City can add a "fee" against every property owner in Toledo to pay additional monies and call it a "Refuse Fee" when we already pay income tax which is supposed to pay for refuse services. Once collected, it is dumped into the general fund.

Have you considered that if the 3/4% tax does not pass, if the Refuse Fee is legal, Council could simply increase the amount of the fee to cover the amount lost by non-passage of the 3/4% tax. They probably would not do that, but they could, if the Fee is legal. All they would need to do is raise the "Fee" to $53 per property (91,000 per Mike Collins) per month to equal the $58,000,000. If it is legal for Council to do this, then there would be no reason at all to ever put a tax on the ballot.

To anyone interested,
THIS IS A TAX -- THIS IS NOT A FEE -- VOTERS MUST APPROVE A TAX!!

That's the bottom line, the nitty gritty of this lawsuit, this "fee" is not legal.

For several months, I spent an extensive amount of time researching and reaching out to advisers regarding the Fee.

In the search, Maggie Thurber recommended I contact Attorney Kurt Wicklund, as he may be interested in the case. He and the attorneys of the Law Firm, Ciolek & Wicklund, 520 Madison Avenue, Suite 820, Toledo, OH 43604, (419) 931-6431, Fax (866) 890-0419, Email: wicklund@ciolekwicklund.com, initially agreed with my assessment but took the challenge to further research the issue to confirm whether the Fee is or is not legal.

As a result of this research, it was determined the fee is not legal and today, February 28, 2008, a complaint has been filed in Common Pleas Court on behalf of myself and property owners of Toledo against the City of Toledo. The complaint is in the list of "Links" on this page.

8 comments:

JMM said...

Hi Karen,

I would be happy to add my name to the lawsuit.

Thanks JMM

Black Swamp Road Geek said...

If I have a choice between a 3/4 tax and a refuse fee, I will tax the refuse fee. Everyone else in the county pays for their garbage collection, except Toledo, where the citizens of Toledo have garbage collection subsiidized by suburban residents that work in the City

Hooda Thunkit said...

BS Road Geek,

"Everyone else in the county pays for their garbage collection, except Toledo"

Welcome to Toledo politics, and all that it entails.

BTW, you have no idea as to how much Toledoans actually pay for their garbage service.

FWIW, it would be cheaper if we were given the opportunity to contract with and pay for our garbage service ourselves, except that it wouldn't lower our considerable taxes a penny.

Government abhors returning/refunding taxes and would quickly justify keeping the garbage monies/taxes/fees, under any excuse/pretense...

Maggie Thurber said...

Toledo pays for garbage collection through property taxes, payroll taxes and income taxes. Just because it's covered as part of the tax base and not as a separate bill (or subcontracted) doesn't mean we don't pay it.

However, Hooda's got the best idea in terms of exploring outside contracting. Interesting if the suburban communities charge less than Toledo...

Karen SHANAHAN said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Karen SHANAHAN said...

Edited post from earlier (which I deleted);
With it on the table that we need to "replace" existing equipment at a cost of 1.6 million dollars (12 trucks) (this amount does not include the cost of the bins with micro-chips.) because we need to automate, a comprehensive study of the possibility of privatizing is absolutely warranted and a sub-committee should be establish by Council comprised of private citizens and council members to do and independent study.

Using the microchip program to monitor residents of Toledo so they can be penalized if they do not recycle is again the punishment mentality of our City Leaders.

I expect this type of monitoring program is utilized by private contracts as a way of measuring the quantity of refuse collected per household to appropriately bill by volume according the contract with the homeowner. By so doing, the homeowner is charged by usage.

Hooda Thunkit: I agree completely that the City would privatize and not consider adjusting taxes to compensate. Averages indicate that on 91,000 households, we pay $124 per year for refuse pickup ($11,284,000 / 91,000 households) so at the end of each year, on the water bill, the City could issue a credit for that amount.

Regardless of the decision, it should be thoroughly studied and reported to the residents. Also, if it were recommended to privatize, it would be worthwhile to put it to a vote the residents rather than just a vote of Council.

Karen SHANAHAN said...

jmm: This is a class action suit, your voice will be heard!

Robin said...

Thank you.