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The "user" fee imposed for garbage and recycling collection has been a terrible burden on homeowners of modest means, particularly single parents and senior citizens.

More egregious, however, is the fee's built-in inequity. Every single-family home is charged the same fee, no matter how many family members, no matter how much garbage is discarded and no matter how little the residents recycle.

If, in addition to property taxes, we must pay for this service, Mayor Masiello and the Common Council should act swiftly to implement a system whereby each household would purchase individual garbage bags. Only these bags would be picked up by the city. This would undoubtedly encourage Buffalonians to throw away less and recycle more.

When Buffalo's recycling program was introduced, officials promised that it would eventually save the city -- and presumably, its taxpayers -- money. Many of us immediately went to work, assiduously recycling every possible item, and reducing our household garbage to just one or two bags a week. However, instead of being rewarded for our daily efforts, we are being punished with this burdensome fee.

Those who recycle should be rewarded for their efforts. When homeowners who discard six, eight or 10 bags of garbage a week are forced to pay by the bag, perhaps then they will review the recycling guidelines and do their fair share. This would also help the city toward that eventual savings.

Sharon Green Buffalo

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