Don't count Kevin Helfer among the Common Council members backing off from Buffalo's new garbage fee.
No, Helfer wants to keep the user fee. He also wants to lower it and has three recommendations on how to do it. The Masiello administration likes at least two of his ideas.
If Helfer's proposal were adopted, it would save the city $1 million and cut the garbage fee by $8 a year, he said.
"The goal is to get garbage off the streets more efficiently," said Helfer, who represents the University District.
Under his plan, the city would:
Reduce its use of an East Side transfer station and haul most of the city's garbage directly to a landfill in Lewiston.
Buy 16 new large-capacity garbage trucks and four mobile transfer stations to be located on vacant, city-owned land.
Require that each city street be cleaned once a week by a street sweeper.
The first part of Helfer's proposal is to eliminate what he calls an unnecessary extra step in the city's garbage-disposal system.
Instead of taking all of the city's garbage to the East Side Transfer Station and then to Modern Landfill in Lewiston, Helfer wants to haul most of it directly to the landfill.
By cutting back on its use of the transfer station, the city could save some of the money it pays in fees. The city pays $14.79 a ton to CID Refuse Service, which operates the station.
Earlier this year, city officials experimented with the idea and liked the results.
"It's workable; it's doable," said Vincent J. LoVallo, street sanitation commissioner. "Obviously, direct haul would result in tremendous savings."
The question is whether the city, under its contract with CID, has the right to stop sending garbage to the transfer station. Helfer said he has been told by city attorneys that the city has that option.
CID, which would continue to receive some of the city's garbage, is studying the legality of Helfer's proposal. "On its surface, it looks like it will have an impact on our operation, and we're concerned about it," said Ronald Shapin, CID vice president.
For Helfer's proposal to work, the city would have to spend about $2.3 million on new trucks and mobile transfer stations.
The trucks, which hold nearly twice as much garbage as the city's current fleet, would haul directly to the Lewiston landfill.
The city's smaller trucks would dump their loads into the portable transfer stations. Once full, the transfer stations would be hauled to the landfill.
Helfer's street-sweeping proposal would have the work transferred to the Buffalo Sewer Authority, a move almost certain to be opposed by the sanitation workers union.