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Ordinance would exempt owners of vacant homes from trash bills in Summit Hill

Published November 16. 2009 05:00PM

An ordinance under consideration by Summit Hill Borough Council would exempt owners of vacant houses from paying garbage bills.

A draft of the ordinance was given to council members last week by the borough's solicitor, Attorney Joseph Matika.

Under the proposal, there would be three different types of exemptions allowed to the garbage bills. They are:

Non-household units. An example would be a restaurant that produces more than the amount of garbage that a residential home would produce. The business would have to provide proof that it has a private hauler.

A living unit above a business would be exempt if there is proof that a private hauler has been hired and that more trash is produced by the business and household combined than what would be considered normal for a residence.

An exemption could be given to the owner of a vacant household if the dwelling has been unoccupied for a minimum of six consecutive months. Documentation would have to be made to prove the dwelling was vacant for the six month period. Attorney Matika said the best documentation would be borough records such as a tenant's moving permit.

Abuse of the latter reason could result in a fine and pro-rated trash collecting costs, according to the proposal.

It was noted that exceptions to the ordinance would have to occur prior to Jan. 1 each year.

Councilman Harry Miller voiced apprehension toward the proposal, stating, "This is going to create one hell of an accounting system."

Another councilman, John Shemansik, disagreed and said it will be up to the property owners to fill out the application for the exemption.

Dialogue indicated that the police department might be asked to help monitor the provisions in the exemption.

One other provision in the proposal is that residents who pay their trash collection bill for a full year would receive a discount - possibly 10 percent.

The ordinance is expected to be discussed when the council meets at 7 p.m. on Dec. 8 in the borough hall.

In other matters, the council awarded a four-year contract to Tamaqua Transfer for weekly trash and recyclable collection.

Tamaqua Transfer was the lowest bidder for the contract, submitting a quote of $1,165,658. This is slightly lower than the existing price the borough pays for trash collection.

The contract is based on 1,492 dwelling units. Under the terms of the contract, the borough can adjust the number of dwelling units monthly as vacancies or occupancies occur in the borough.

The agreement with Tamaqua Transfer sets a five-bag per week limit and provides for two clean-up collections, one in the spring and one in the fall.

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