How To Form a Refuse District | FAQs

CANCELLED: Public Information Meeting: Tuesday, March 24 at 6PM - Irondequoit Town Hall (Broderick Room)

Over the next few months, the Town of Irondequoit will be working with residents, neighborhood associations and other interested parties to facilitate the formation of a refuse district. This concept has been long discussed for our Town, possessing the potential to lower the cost of garbage collection for residents, reduce heavy truck traffic on our roads and carbon emissions into our environment. Here is a primer about refuse districts, the possible benefits and the process for forming one.

WHAT IS A REFUSE DISTRICT?

A Refuse District is a designated area in which a single refuse collector services all households in the district. The Town of Irondequoit would request bids for all districts and negotiate a contract with a Refuse collector. The cost of the service would be added to the property tax bill of property owners in the Refuse District as a special district charge, in the manner of the existing sewer districts and lighting districts. Residents within the district would, thus, no longer pay a refuse collector directly as is currently the case.

Eligibility to form a Refuse District

Typically, a refuse district consists of a group of adjoining streets; a formal neighborhood association or group is not necessary for setting up a refuse district, but they can be a helpful resource.

Setting up a Refuse District and setting the boundaries of the district are entirely up to the residents of a district. The residents decide the boundaries of the district, then inform the Town of their decision. The Town will guide interested residents through the process.

State law requires property owners who want a refuse district to sign a petition. The Town can assist with distributing and notarizing petitions. The petition must be signed by the owners of taxable real property situated in the proposed district owning at least 50% of the assessed valuation of all the taxable real property of the proposed district as shown on the latest assessment roll. The petition must also include signatures of resident owners (natural persons who reside at the property) owning taxable real property aggregating at least one-half of the assessed valuation of all taxable real property in the proposed district owned by resident owners. See below “How to Form a Refuse District.”

Cost to Be in a Refuse District

The charge for refuse collection can vary year to year. Since the refuse collection service is competitively bid and awarded to the lowest responsible bidder meeting the bid specifications, cost per household is expected to be lower than the price individual homeowners could obtain on their own.

Option for Special Services

For residents who now pay extra for services such as collection of trash from close to the house rather than curbside and low-volume service, the Town will seek arrangements with the selected hauler to continue such services at the same or substantially similar price. The same type of arrangement can be made for residential leaf pickup. This would be done through bid specifications.

Advantages of a Refuse District

✔ Potentially lower cost to residents for trash collection because:

  • Competitive bidding
  • Lower administration costs for the trash hauler: only sends one bill – to the Town, instead of hundreds or thousands. Doesn’t have to chase late payments.
  • No sales tax
  • Rates are set for the year
  • Town can negotiate favorable contract renewal options

✔ Reduce garbage truck traffic on residential streets to one visit, once a week

✔ The Town will advocate for residents in the case of complaints that the refuse collector doesn’t resolve

Disadvantages of a Refuse District

✔ Experience in places with Refuse Districts has been that costs for property owners are lower, but there is no guarantee.

✔ To cover the cost of administering refuse districts, the Town must include a fee in the District charge of up to 5% of the contract price.

✔ The property owner cannot choose a collector – the Town awards the contract to the lowest responsible bidder.

✔ Some additional services (i.e., doorside pickup, leaf collection) not covered in the Town’s contract with the refuse collector must be negotiated between the property owner and the refuse collector, most likely for an additional fee.

✔ Property owners would have to pay for refuse collection for the entire year – service cannot be stopped and restarted for those who go out of town seasonally.

✔ All property owners in a district must participate once the district is established.

Responsibilities

THE TOWN:

  • Competitively bids for the service
  • Administers the contract
  • Bills residents for services as part of the annual tax bill
  • Addresses complaints that the hauler doesn’t resolve

THE REFUSE HAULER:

  • Picks up refuse and recyclables on a regular basis
  • If notified in advance picks up reasonable amounts of bulky refuse
  • Bills the Town for services
  • Notifies the property owner of necessary information such as hauler’s phone number and collection day

THE HOMEOWNER:

  • Separates recyclables from trash
  • Secures the lids of trash receptacles
  • Calls ahead for bulky pickups
  • Calls the collector first with any problems
  • Calls the Town if problems aren’t appropriately resolved by the collector

How to form a Refuse District for your neighborhood

If your neighborhood is interested in creating a Refuse District:

1. Talk to your neighbors to define the district. Decide what streets you wish to include. As will be discussed below, this process is somewhat labor intensive and involves a great deal of coordination and affirmative participation. Therefore, residents should be pragmatic when considering the size of the district as the Town Board will make its decision to form the district based on the area delineated in the Petition.

2. Contact the Town. The Town will provide petition forms with a map showing the district boundaries proposed by the neighborhood. Proponents of the district may carry the petition to area property owners, or may instead ask the Town to mail the petition and map to each property owner in the proposed district. In either case, signatures must be witnessed by a notary.

3. Obtain petition signatures from owners of taxable real property situated in the proposed district owning at least 50% of the assessed valuation of all the taxable real property of the proposed district as shown on the latest assessment roll. The petition must also include signatures of resident owners (natural persons who reside at the property) owning taxable real property aggregating at least one-half of the assessed valuation of all taxable real property in the proposed district owned by resident owners.

For example, if a proposed district contains eleven properties, three of corporate non-resident owners and eight of resident owners, the petition must have six signatures, at least four of which must be of resident owners.

Six signatures, but improper (not enough resident owner signatures):

Improper

Six signatures and proper (at least half of the resident owners’ signatures):

Proper

4. The Town will assist with providing notaries to witness signatures and in helping you complete the process.

5. Petitions should be submitted to the Supervisor’s Office by April 30. For all proposed districts whose owners wish to proceed, the Town Board will adopt a resolution describing the proposed district and its cost to the typical home and scheduling a public hearing regarding the proposed district. The Town will then file with the Town Clerk a detailed explanation of the how it computed the cost of the proposed district to the typical home. Then, the Town will publish a notice of the public hearing in the Irondequoit Post and also on its website.

6. After the hearing on the proposed district, the Town Board will determine whether the petition is proper, and whether the proposed district benefits owners and is in the public interest. If so, the Town Board may adopt a resolution approving the establishment of the district.

7. The Town will thereafter issue a competitive bid for refuse collection for all approved districts. Once the lowest responsible bidder is chosen, the Town will advise each household of the annual cost.

8. Services would begin January 1 following the adoption of a district.

9. The Town will bill district residents annually on their Town tax bill. District residents no longer would receive a bill directly from the waste hauler (unless they elect to receive optional services, such as leaf collection).

10. For residents who now pay extra for special services, such as collection of trash and recycling from close to the house rather than curbside, the Town will seek arrangements with the selected hauler to continue such services at the same or substantially similar price.

11. The Town would consider new districts each year, with petitions to be filed between January 1 and April 30.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Refuse District?

A Refuse District is a designated area in which the Town provides refuse collection to residents, typically through a contracted service provider. The cost of the service is added to the property tax bill of each resident in the Refuse District as a special district charge.

Will the Town be creating Refuse Districts for all neighborhoods in the Town? No. While state Law allows for an alternative process whereby the Town Board may create a district subject to permissive referendum, at this time the initiative and responsibility of forming a Refuse District and setting the boundaries of the district will be entirely up to the residents of a district. The Town will guide interested residents through the process and can assist with providing notaries to witness signatures to the petitions, as State law requires.

How is a Refuse District area determined?

  • The property owners in a neighborhood determine the area for the proposed district by discussing options with their neighbors. The Town is available for consultation, if desired.
  • Once the neighborhood determines a proposed area for the district, a representative contacts the Supervisor’s Office at 336-6029. The Town will provide a map of the district area proposed by the neighborhood and send the map along with a petition form. Proponents of the district may carry the petition to area property owners, or may instead ask the Town to mail the petition and map to each property owner in the proposed district to sign before a notary and then return to the Town.
  • The Town will guide interested residents through the process and can assist with notarizing participant petitions. Petitions must be signed by the owners of taxable real property situated in the proposed district owning at least 50% of the assessed valuation of all the taxable real property of the proposed district as shown on the latest assessment roll. The petition must also include signatures of resident owners (natural persons who reside at the property) owning taxable real property aggregating at least one-half of the assessed valuation of all taxable real property in the proposed district owned by resident owners.

Who can form a Refuse District?

Typically, a refuse district consists of a group of adjoining streets; a formal neighborhood association or group is not necessary for setting up a refuse district.

What is the cost to be in a Refuse District?

The charge for refuse collection can vary year to year. Since the refuse collection service is competitively bid and awarded to the lowest responsible bidder meeting the bid specifications, cost per resident is expected to be lower than the price individual property owners could obtain on their own.

Can a household opt out of a Refuse District?

Once a Refuse District is created, everyone in the District will use the same trash hauler and will be assessed a District charge on the tax roll.

Are there options for special services?

The Town’s bid specifications will seek to preserve special services arrangements, such as collection of trash from close to the house rather than curbside or optional recycle toter for those who desire it. Suspending service seasonally is not available as an option. The Town will seek arrangements with the selected hauler to continue special services at the same or substantially similar price as residents in the district currently pay. Furthermore, the Town – through its bidding process – may seek to require the waste collectors provide, as a supplemental item, services like leaf collection. Any fees for such additional services would be payable by the resident directly to the refuse hauler.

How does the petition process work?

  • A neighborhood representative notifies the Town that neighborhood residents are interested in forming a Refuse District and affirms the streets to include in the District.
  • The Town will provide the petition and map of the proposed district to the neighborhood representative to carry to property owners and collect signatures. The neighborhood representative may instead ask the Town to mail the petition and map to each property owner in the proposed district. In either case, the signatures must be witnessed by a notary.
  • Property owners desiring a Refuse District sign the petition before a notary (see below regarding notarization options). For homes that are jointly owned, the signature of one owner will suffice.
  • Where the petition is mailed to property owners, they may return their signed and notarized petitions to the Town via mail or drop them off at the Town Clerk’s Office on the first floor of Town Hall.

What are the options for getting a petition notarized?

  • The Town can hold a “Petition Signing Day” in the neighborhood, providing a notary at a specific location so property owners may come to sign their petitions and have them notarized.
  • Generally, there is always at least one notary at Town Hall, either in the Clerk’s Office or in the Supervisor’s Office.
  • Property owners in the proposed district may opt to use a notary of their own choosing.