Erie Mayor Vetoes Ordinances Surrounding Garbage & Sewer Fees - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather and Events

Erie Mayor Vetoes Ordinances Surrounding Garbage & Sewer Fees

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In a rare political move, Erie Mayor Joe Sinnott has vetoed an ordinance that council passed last week.
It all stems from "sunset provisions" that council added when they passed the 2014 budget.
    
Council voted in favor of fee increases for sewer and garbage this year, for city residents.

But, they also passed ordinances which include "sunset provisions" meaning council would have to vote again to continue those increases or lower them.

"You're not going to be able to do it (lower fees), and we went over all this at budget time," said Sinnott. "And I think council knows that it's not something that's going to be able to be rolled back. Even if there is a substantial collection of delinquent refuse fees the cost of running the operation is considerably more, and the increases still would have been necessary," Sinnott added.

Thursday, Erie Mayor Joe Sinnott says he vetoed those two ordinances, saying it's "not sound budgeting practice."
Council put the provisions in, to push the city to collect the $2.5 million dollars in delinquent garbage fees, and to try and generate more revenue from other municipalities for using the city's sewage treatment plant.

But Sinnott says again, even if they get more money for sewer, or collect a big chunk of all those delinquent refuse fees, it still wouldn't be enough to roll back the fee increases.

So, he thinks the sunset provision is ineffective, and therefore vetoed the ordinances, "Creating that expectation in the community that's it's going to be automatically rolled back or it's only a one-year increase, I don't think that's fair to the public," said Sinnott. "That's why I decided to veto it," Sinnott added.

Council could override the veto, but they need 5 out of 7 votes to do that.

City Council Member, Bob Merski wasn't a fan of the sunset provisions in the first place, and agrees with Sinnott, "I just think it's disingenuous to tell people we might cut these at the end of the year, and this might go away, because we all know that it is not," Merski said.

WICU & WSEE spoke with several council members to get an idea of where they all stand. Many tell us this is first they're hearing of the veto, and they'll talk about it at their meeting next week, and make a decision then.

"Realistically we cannot cut this money next year," said Merski. "So to put a sunset provision in doesn't make sense for the simple fact that our budget expenses are going to go up year after year after year. Historically they've been going up $300,00 to $500,000 a year and for us to tell people that 'next year your refuse expenses might go down,' we know that's not true. And so I understand what the mayor's trying to do, he's trying to level with the people and tell them to truth," Merski added.

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