State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) slammed the city Department of Sanitation Friday for fines that have been levied against residents for putting their trash cans out too early the day before collection.
Avella said he suspected the levied fines, which are a minimum of $100 but can be as high as $300, were not supported by city law.
“It’s a huge mistake on behalf of the agency,” he said.
The senator said he wanted Sanitation to stop enforcing the policy and to return fines paid to the city under the policy.
Sanitation said in a statement responding to Avella that the current trash pickup times were negotiated between the department and the City Council in 2006, when Tony Avella was a part of the Council.
“It was also agreed that the department would amend its Digest of Codes to reflect this change, which has been beneficial to the public by preventing waste from being stored at curbside,” Sanitation said.
Avella said that about a month ago, he received calls and letters from constituents who said they had been fined for putting out their trash bins for collection the day before. In accordance with Sanitation’s policy, residents are not supposed to put out their trash bins on the day prior to collection before 4 p.m. from Oct. 1 to April 1 or before 5 p.m. at all other times during the year. The policy also dictates the fines.
The senator said enforcing laws for this policy may not be legal. He said the policy never became an official rule, which needs to be published and put up for public comment in accordance with the City Administrative Procedure Act.
“They’re issuing tickets based on public policy,” Avella said.
In light of this, Avella said Sanitation should stop enforcing the policy and move to making the policy a formal rule.
“We should be giving a warning to these individuals rather than a ticket,” Avella said.
The senator said he had received five or six contacts from constituents complaining about fines due to putting out trash cans early in the last few weeks. Trash is collected on Wednesdays and Saturdays in Avella’s district, which covers Bayside, Whitestone, College Point, Little Neck, Bellerose, Queens Village, Hollis, Auburndale, Floral Park, New Hyde Park, Glen Oaks, Fresh Meadows and Jamaica Estates.
Avella said he thought more rigid enforcement of the policy, which he said was not well-advertised as the earliest time residents were able to put out their trash bins changed, may be a way to get money.
“It’s always my belief that Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg tells the city agencies, ‘Go out and get revenue,’” Bloomberg said.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4564.
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