Jersey City announces new flat rate solid waste fee

Jersey City will be instituting a flat rate solid waste fee after criticism over the now dubbed "water tax".

Jersey City has announced a new solid waste fee system that will come at a flat rate and will no longer charge based on water usage, following criticism of the now dubbed “water tax” from earlier this year.

The new waste fee system will charge $12.50 a month per unit, including tax abated properties, according to the Jersey City mayor’s office. The fees will no longer be tied to water usage rates.

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“We always take residents’ concerns very seriously, and this is a positive outcome for residents,” said Mayor Steve Fulop in a press release. “In this instance, residents felt they were overcharged for their waste collection after the MUA acquired the services, and so we immediately demanded they stop the fees until we could ensure accuracy and fairness for all residents citywide.”

The issue regarding the waste fees came to light when the Jersey City Municipal Utilities Authority took the reins for handling waste disposal services at the beginning of this year rather than an outside vendor, and started to charge residents based on their water usage to cover the costs.

A number of residents however later criticized the fees as a “backdoor tax,” and that they were not made aware about it. Following the backlash, Mayor Fulop called on the MUA and SUEZ Water in July to halt the fees.

One resident, Teresa Cupo, told The Jersey Journal that her water bill for her laundromat, “Tessie’s Soapbox”, went up by $956 after the new fees were implemented, and called the system “preposterous.”

She alongside a number of city properties had chose to use private services to opt out of the solid waste fee, per the Jersey Journal.

The mayor’s office said that the new fee system will be reflected in the quarterly SUEZ Water bills at the beginning of next year. They also said that those who previously overpaid this year will receive a credit.

Councilman James Solomon, who had criticized the waste fees and called on the city to fully refund it,  called the new system an improvement over the last one and praised the community groups who spoke out against the fees. “However it should now be subjected to a transparent and tough analysis prior to implementation,” he said.

Councilman Rolando Lavarro, who also criticized the waste fees, said that he urges the City Council to hold off on an upcoming ordinance to sell property to the MUA until the refunds are issued.

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