Trash collection costs to grow

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Hayden residents will pay 50 cents more a month for garbage collection under a contract the Town Board approved Tuesday night.

The new Waste Management fees go into effect next month. The garbage and recycling collector's rates will increase to $17.25 for residential collection and $12.50 a month for seniors through November 2009.

The agency will be allowed to seek approval to raise rates as much as 35 cents for 2009-10 if it can prove that its costs require the increase, Town Manager Russ Martin said. Seniors' rates would remain at $12.50 a month. The town approved the contract, though Trustee Richard "Festus" Hagins expressed displeasure that townsfolk were required to pay for garbage service even if they didn't use it.

"We all pay for the fire department, too, but all of our houses don't burn down," Trustee Tom Rogalski said.

Hagins said he just wanted to raise the point.

"I'm just throwing that out there," he said. "This is a good deal."

Hayden officials also approved a purchasing policy that probably will bring few changes. The new policy mostly codifies practices already in place, Martin said. The board approved the policy, changing only a segment that would have allowed town employees to bid on and buy surplus items worth less than $500.

Trustees voted to require the town to advertise those items to residents first, through the town newsletter and signs on Town Hall property. Trustees said they wanted to discourage the appearance of favoritism.

"What's really important to me is the transparency," Trustee Bill Hayden said. "I don't think we need the criticism, personally."

The policy outlines the rules through which town staff members must make purchases. Those buying items that cost less than $1,500 don't need to obtain formal price comparisons, for example. Items more expensive than that fall under stricter rules requiring bids.

"The bigger we get, the more opportunity for fraud and going back to a 'good old boy' situation," Martin said. "And this policy is an intent to get away from that and become a little more universalized."

Also at Tuesday's meeting, trustees approved a red-flag policy resolution. The Federal Trade Commission requires the town to set up a policy protecting people from identity theft. The town is considered a creditor because people pay their utility bills in arrears, so the policy is mandatory. Town Clerk Susan Irvine put the document together, drawing from policies in Kentucky and Georgia.

"The major change we'll see is when people set up a utility account, we are asking for their driver's license" so people aren't setting up fraudulent accounts in others' names, Irvine said.

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