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City of Lockport finally resolves garbage issue

LOCKPORT – After months of wrangling, the Lockport Common Council on Wednesday unanimously approved a five-year extension of the city’s garbage and recycling contract with Modern Disposal.

The city’s user fees will not change during the five-year period, Mayor Anne E. McCaffrey promised last week. Alderman R. Joseph O’Shaughnessy, D-at large, who pressed for new bidding on the contract, said the user fees might have increased by about $3 by the fifth year, if not for the mayor’s pledge.

Finance Director Scott A. Schrader said last week that the city has enough surplus in the refuse fund to cover the cost increase. Assuming the same tonnage, the city’s total cost for the service is expected to rise $18,750 per year.

The city’s cost to dispose of trash in Modern’s landfill, currently $32.23 per ton, will rise by 50 cents per ton per year. Other fees in the contract, such as the charge per stop for weekly garbage and biweekly recycling, will rise by the consumer price index or 2 percent a year, whichever is less. There will continue to be a limit of one large item per month, except between May and September, when a second one will be allowed, beginning in 2017.

“It continues to keep our pricing well below what other municipalities got when they went out to bid,” McCaffrey said.

O’Shaughnessy dropped his demand for new bids from other companies. “I recommend we go forward with the Modern contract. It’s in the best interest of this community,” he said. “If we had started sooner, there might have been another option.”

Representatives from Modern’s competitors, Waste Management and Republic Services, spoke at the meeting to urge the Council to seek new bids.

Alderwoman Anita Mullane, D-2nd Ward, and Alderman Mark S. Devine, R-3rd Ward, complimented O’Shaughnessy for his efforts. “We got a better deal than we would have gotten,” Devine said.

O’Shaughnessy said the next step is to do something about the roughly 20 percent of residents who don’t pay the semiannual garbage bills on time, instead choosing to have them added to the following year’s taxes.

“We’re not going to allow this to go on without extreme penalties,” O’Shaughnessy said.

Also, the Council approved a revised grass-cutting law, fining property owners $150 for letting grass grow taller than 6 inches. The fine is in addition to the cost of mowing. The Council hired Niagara County Custom Landscaping of Burt Wednesday; it will charge $45 per lawn. In a new provision, residents will have the opportunity to appeal the fines to the Zoning Board of Appeals.

The Council also hired Donegal Construction Co. of Greensburg, Pa., to mill streets. Schrader said the city has $784,000 available in various forms of state aid for paving this year. McCaffrey said milling will start May 26-27 on parts of Ohio, Simonds, South New York, Ransom and Minard streets.

Later in the summer, there will be more milling on Juniper, Cave, Spalding, Locust, North Transit and Church streets, Rushmore Alley and Morrow Avenue. Sixteen other streets will be paved without milling old pavement.

McCaffrey said other streets will be patched, some of them receiving strips of fresh pavement over concentrations of potholes.

“This year, we’re trying to get out in the neighborhoods a little more,” the mayor said. The choices were based on a pavement rating of every street in the city by City Engineer Rolando Moreno and Streets Department foreman Carter Hawkins.