City of Syracuse Looks to Change Trash Collection Rules for Larger Properties

Aug 21, 2019

The City of Syracuse wants to eliminate municipal trash collection from apartment buildings of more than four units.
Credit City of Syracuse twitter / @syracuse1848

The City of Syracuse is looking to change some of its trash collection practices by eliminating service to larger apartment buildings.  Current ordinance sets the maximum number of units at ten.  City director of operations Corey Driscoll-Dunham says the plan before common councilors would draw the line at four.


"If you have more than four, it's a commercial business, you should really be contracting with a local hauler to take care of the trash.  We're dealing a lot of long term issues; aging equipment, the physical toll on sanitation workers.  So, we thought, let's look at what other cities are doing, and let's see if we can get that done in Syracuse."

Driscoll-Dunham says some of the nearly 400 apartment buildings between five and ten units have already made the switch to a private hauler, so it makes sense to be consistent.  The city could save at least $300,000. 

Aside from reducing costs, Common Councilor Michael Greene questions the rationale behind the move.  He’s worried that landlords could face increased trash collection costs, which would likely be passed on to renters who are least able to afford it.

Mayor Walsh (center) joined sanitation crews for garbage man day last year.
Credit City of Syracuse twitter / @syracuse1848

"I have a little bit of a question on the equity of that.  As a single family homeowner, the city picks up my trash.  If I'm a renter in an eight unit apartment, why the city wouldn't provide that service concerns me a little bit.  As a city, we should be promoting density.  We want a walkable community."

Greene says this change might discourage multiple-unit dwellings.  

He and his colleagues are also considering a less controversial plan to get out of the trash brokerage business.  Corey Driscoll-Dunham says in the 1990’s, Syracuse and other cities stopped picking up commercial waste but acted as a middleman and billing agent between businesses and haulers. 

"At the time this was introduced, the city was able to get a discounted rate for the number of businesses that were in the pool.  Over the years, the pool has gotten much smaller.  We don't believe this is the best use of our staff time.  Why not take ourselves out of the middle and connect the haulers directly with the businesses."

She says they’re confident the remaining 140 businesses can secure a better rate on their own, while the city would free up a staffer from processing bills.

The council could take up the measures at its next meeting September 9th.