LETTER: Greenwich Tipping Fee Truth

Submitted by Mark Fichtel

A “study” by Scott Kalb and Svetlana Wasserman, two zealous promoters of Pay As You Throw that excoriates tipping fees and again pushes for PAYT, is full of inaccuracies that need to be corrected and omissions that need to be brought to light.

The “study” of 60 unidentified people (of over 12,000 non-commercial hauler customers) is so statistically incomplete and opaque that to draw any conclusions from it is misguided and deceptive.

More to the point is that the “survey” numbers are so wrong as to discredit the entire effort.  Every “study” statement in the two paragraphs that follow is false.

First, the “study” states the “average residential hauling bill has increased by 27%…more than twice as much as estimated [by tipping fee supporters who said]…haulers would absorb 25-30% of associated costs and raise rates by about $82 per year, a 13% increase.”

Next, the “study” states “the average increase has come in at $164 per year, double their estimate and 27% above previous rates.”

On August 25-26, I surveyed 20 of the 23 licensed haulers that represent 99% of the garbage the haulers handled in 2019.  Though some haulers passed on the entire increase (or more), others held firm or actually reduced their rates for competitive reasons.

As a result, the average increase was not 27%, but is under 13%.  The average increase is $7/month, or $84 a year, not $164.  These corrections also make the assertions about taxes in the “study” mistaken.

The “study” makes much of the $25 Holly Hill permit fee, which is a red herring argument.  To keep traffic down at Holly Hill, such a fee would have made sense under either PAYT or tipping fees. 

The “study” offers an astoundingly moment when it bemoans the tipping fee impact on “religious institutions and not-for-profits.”  Having these institutions that pay zero property taxes for town services “pay their fair share” was one of the key selling points for PAYT made by its proponents.  Hypocrisy anyone?

Glaringly absent from the “study” was a recitation of the true cost of PAYT.  The average household of 2.8 people would have used 90-100 $2 bags a year, for a cost of $180-$200, well above the $84 tipping fee cost.  And this does not count the cost of changes at Holly Hill or enforcement of the PAYT diktat that PAYT would require.

For all their professed concern about the environment it’s supremely ironic that the “study” states that “[p]erhaps the best deal going is to pay $25 per year for unlimited direct drop off at Holly Hill and haul your own garbage.”  Imagine the pollution from 23,000 households all driving to Holly Hill.

The one observation honestly made in the “study” is that “some [haulers] offer better deals than others. [So] you might…consider negotiating with your hauler to cut your rates or switching to another hauler.”

To help with that, I asked all haulers to quote me a price for weekly service for a 2-person household in a single-family house in Byram. 

The following (in alphabetical order) quoted me rates of $40-$50 a month: Bonsastia Refuse, Conelias Refuse, Fredo Capozza Sanitation, Greenwich Carting, Greenwich Refuse & Recycling, James R. Santaguida Sanitation, Longo Brothers Carting, Mark Longo & Son Carting, and  Target Disposal Service.

If you have any questions about my study or its methodology email me at [email protected].

See also:

OPINON: Tipping Fees Have Resulted in Higher Hauling Rates for Residents
(Opinion submitted by Scott Kalb and Svetlana Wasserman)