can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

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F150HD
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can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

Post by F150HD » Thu Jul 13, 2017 11:07 am

Is it legal for a City to mandate that a homeowner has curbside recycling service? and charge them for it in/on their property tax? even if as a separate 'fee' on the prop tax bill (pays for local private hauler to pick up your recycling 1x a week)

same question about garbage service (private hauler, not City owned)

Thanks.

(Question isn't about the 'ethics' of recycling and whats 'good' for the planet by the way. Not looking for a moral debate on recycling. Thank you.)

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Re: can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

Post by Sidney » Thu Jul 13, 2017 11:13 am

Might be the case that if the state doesn't prohibit the mandate that they can. I lived in a city where they could and would fine you if they found certain materials (like glass bottles, aluminum cans) in your garbage stream.
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Re: can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

Post by pizza8822 » Thu Jul 13, 2017 11:13 am

I've heard of this in several municipalities, so I would say, yes they can. Is it surprising that city leaders can decide to do this? Seems similar to any other public service like schools, water, roads, etc. that you must pay as a resident via property tax or indirectly through rent.

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Re: can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

Post by DoTheMath » Thu Jul 13, 2017 11:16 am

Sure. Unless a higher authority (e.g. the state, the feds) forbids it, I expect that this would be considered well within the city's purview. No different than a city sales tax, minimum wage, stormwater fees, etc.
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Re: can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

Post by dm200 » Thu Jul 13, 2017 11:17 am

F150HD wrote:Is it legal for a City to mandate that a homeowner has curbside recycling service? and charge them for it in/on their property tax? even if as a separate 'fee' on the prop tax bill (pays for local private hauler to pick up your recycling 1x a week)

same question about garbage service (private hauler, not City owned)

Thanks.

(Question isn't about the 'ethics' of recycling and whats 'good' for the planet by the way. Not looking for a moral debate on recycling. Thank you.)
Our County in Virginia mandates and charges for three curbside "services": 1. Garbage; 2. Mixed recycling (paper, cans, cardboard, etc. 3. Garden waste. They now provide three color coded large cans that standardize the collection.

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Re: can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

Post by Pajamas » Thu Jul 13, 2017 11:28 am

You could take them to court to find out. If you don't like the outcome, appeal. :beer

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Re: can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

Post by barnaclebob » Thu Jul 13, 2017 11:31 am

I believe the city that my brother lives in has "free" recycling that is likely lumped in with taxes somehow. They also get a lot of revenue from some riverboat casinos in the area.

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Re: can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

Post by Geologist » Thu Jul 13, 2017 11:32 am

My municipality mandates such services and charges for them monthly on its utility bill (the city provides water and electricity too). While nominally the city has its own trash/recycling service, it in fact contracts out to a private company.

I suppose what a municipality can charge for is really a matter of state law, but it is certainly legal in my state.

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Re: can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

Post by flamesabers » Thu Jul 13, 2017 11:32 am

In unique circumstances I think a city can mandate specific homeowners to pay for garbage & recycling services (i.e. homeowners who are turning their backyard into a landfill) but not for all homeowners. On the basis of public safety and health, I think local governments can require you to keep your home/land free of garbage and to recycle certain materials, but I've never heard of cities requiring all homeowners to buy certain services to comply with these mandates. In the very least I think cities should at least allow homeowners to opt out of this fee.

I would be a bit surprised if nobody tried taking this issue to court.

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Re: can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

Post by CAsage » Thu Jul 13, 2017 11:36 am

Many cities/communities have mandatory targets to reduce landfill waste, due to increasing costs of hauling trash there and the filling up of landfills. Since they have to pay for trash somehow, recycling diverts a good chunk of that away from landfills. I view this as all part of the cost of civilization, and am very happy to see most of my neighbors put out their separate recycling bins and trash bins weekly.
Note: The city gets revenue from selling the recycling material, which offsets the expense.
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Re: can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

Post by btenny » Thu Jul 13, 2017 11:38 am

I am pretty sure cities can bill you the property owner for services they provide and you have to pay for them. I guess it is their option how they collect the money. I know the City of Phoenix bills every homeowner on every property for all services. I get a single bill that includes water, trash pickup, sewer, and other fees and taxes every month. It is our biggest utility bill. It runs $150 each month. You have to pay for the whole bill for all the services even if you do not use the service. I know as I challenged the bill back when. I only use the home 6-7 months a year so I did not want to pay for trash pickup and sewer when I was not there. The city said no. And they had court cases from other homeowners where they sued the homeowner to make him pay.

But I also know that some cites do not provide these services. I used to live in Paradise Valley (next door to Phoenix) and there you buy trash pickup from a garbage company. You also buy water from a different company and sewer from a third company, etc.. So in that town I could stop my trash pickup for a few months to save money.
But I could not stop the sewer fee if I wanted water. So it was complicated. Plus in that case the fees were very expensive versus normal city charges.

So yes you probably have to pay.

Good Luck.

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Re: can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

Post by jhfenton » Thu Jul 13, 2017 11:41 am

Our small city does as well (as does our encircling big brother Cincinnati). The city has a contract for garbage collection and recycling. The fee appears on our quarterly water bill from the city.

We, at least, have a much more flexible contract than Cincinnati. My mother-in-law a few miles away is allowed the one official garbage can per week and the lid must fully close. We have no specific limitations.

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Re: can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

Post by ResearchMed » Thu Jul 13, 2017 11:51 am

Our town does this also.

This past year, they've started offering a few different sizes, at differing monthly costs.
(We are waiting to hear about some larger ones being, er, moved...)

But for years, they've mandated use (actually, it's the payment that is mandated, not the use) of regular and recycling, with varying and stricter rules about what goes where.

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Re: can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

Post by flamesabers » Thu Jul 13, 2017 11:53 am

pizza8822 wrote:Seems similar to any other public service like schools, water, roads, etc. that you must pay as a resident via property tax or indirectly through rent.
I disagree with this statement. There are already numerous private companies that can just as easily take away your garbage and recycling. Alternatively, homeowners can just take their own garbage and recycling to the city's landfill/incinerator/recycling plant. I don't object to there being a public option for garbage and recycling services, (maybe some homeowners prefer having one less bill to pay?) but I don't like the idea of the city mandating you to pay for a service when you can just as easily buy the service from a private company.

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Re: can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

Post by Thesaints » Thu Jul 13, 2017 12:09 pm

How's that different from refusing to pay for the school district because your kids go to private school ?

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Re: can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

Post by whomever » Thu Jul 13, 2017 12:50 pm

I've lived places where garbage service was optional, and places where it was mandated. For the places I have lived, garbage, recycling, and sometimes yard waste were bundled.

I dunno what the OP's exact situation is, but we bought a house in a 'mandate' area but didn't move there for a couple of years. We asked the city people, and they zeroed out the garbage fee until we moved in.

FWIW, in the non-rural places where garbage service was optional, some people opted out but reliably took their garbage to the landfill. Unfortunately, some people opted out and then dumped their garbage by the road, in other people's dumpsters, and so on. Given the landfill fees, taking it there yourself didn't save all that much unless you produced very little garbage. Other places might be different, of course.

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Re: can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Thu Jul 13, 2017 1:49 pm

In our case, the county passed the ordinance and the cities had to enforce it. My city wanted to opt out of the mandatory recycling, because we had a city-run central recycling center, but that didn't fly. We pay the hauler directly though.

Some people were unhappy. You had the use the waste company selected for the city even if you were happy with the old one. A few were taking their trash to their business for disposal. I will say that the negotiated price was pretty decent.
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Re: can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

Post by littlebird » Thu Jul 13, 2017 1:59 pm

I once (briefly) lived in a "city" (coming from the east coast, I was amazed at what was a "city" in the west) that was mandated by the state to provide garbage pick up. It then contracted with a trash hauler to provide said services and to bill, not the city, but each individual homeowner. Once in awhile a homeowner would have a dispute with the trash hauler and refuse to pay the bill for period of time. The city would send out the police to arrest the homeowner for failure to pay for a city service. True story. Fortunately a city slicker lawyer moved in and put a stop to it. :wink:

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Re: can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

Post by Lindrobe » Thu Jul 13, 2017 2:12 pm

In the city I live in, garbage service and recycling service are included on my monthly utility bill. I am pretty sure that it is not optional, but I don't know for sure.

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Re: can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

Post by flamesabers » Thu Jul 13, 2017 2:16 pm

Lindrobe wrote:In the city I live in, garbage service and recycling service are included on my monthly utility bill. I am pretty sure that it is not optional, but I don't know for sure.
It wouldn't hurt to ask. Maybe they have different options you can select from?

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Re: can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

Post by rkhusky » Thu Jul 13, 2017 2:18 pm

Cities can also require you to maintain their property, i.e. the land that is between your property and the street. You may have to pay to replace sidewalks in disrepair, cut the grass, clear the sidewalks of snow, or plant a particular type of tree on that land.

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Re: can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

Post by lhl12 » Thu Jul 13, 2017 2:58 pm

All municipalities are created by and are subject to the legal jurisdiction of the state in which they are located. The state is sovereign and has almost total legal authority to manage its counties and municipalities as it sees fit (including dissolving or merging them if it wishes). A good example of this is what happened in Detroit when the city declared bankruptcy. The state of Michigan stepped in and assumed total legal control of the city, including appointing a Mayor (who was not elected by or answerable to the voters of the city).

Your specific question therefore is a question about the law in the state in which you are located. Presumably the charter of your municipality (drafted by your state legislature), together with all subsequent applicable bills and amendments, specifies exactly what authority your municipality does and does not have.

In practice, as you can tell from many of the other posters, your municipality almost certainly has the delegated legal authority (from your state) to impose the charges you describe.

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Re: can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

Post by Elsebet » Thu Jul 13, 2017 3:01 pm

We're just east of Seattle, WA but are in an unincorporated part of King County. We have a teeny garbage can and huge recycling bin. Extra fees are assessed for extra garbage only, not recycling. City folks are also required to add kitchen waste to a separate bin for composting but since we are more rural I guess they figure we'll do that on our own (and we do of course). It's not even available if I wanted it.

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Re: can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

Post by pizza8822 » Thu Jul 13, 2017 3:11 pm

flamesabers wrote:
pizza8822 wrote:Seems similar to any other public service like schools, water, roads, etc. that you must pay as a resident via property tax or indirectly through rent.
I disagree with this statement. There are already numerous private companies that can just as easily take away your garbage and recycling. Alternatively, homeowners can just take their own garbage and recycling to the city's landfill/incinerator/recycling plant. I don't object to there being a public option for garbage and recycling services, (maybe some homeowners prefer having one less bill to pay?) but I don't like the idea of the city mandating you to pay for a service when you can just as easily buy the service from a private company.
I see where you're coming from, but why not take it further? I can hire a private security company to keep me safe. I can hire someone to bring me water via truck. Can I get a refund for my police and water bills? I think the point is if 99.9 percent of people use the public service, it might make sense to have it flow through the city government.

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Re: can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

Post by celia » Thu Jul 13, 2017 3:22 pm

^^ In addition to police, fire, and water, you can pay for your kids to go to private school, but you will still have to pay for the public schools. Even though you could buy all your books through Amazon, you would still pay taxes for your local libraries.

I suspect some states mandate recycling. I know of no city in my area that doesn't have it.

But it does not have to be paid for on property taxes. Our trash pick-up is paid for as part of the city water bill. The cost depends on how many regular trash barrels you have, although the recycling barrels don't have a monthly charge. I think the recylcing part is cost neutral. Since the regular trash is picked up by trucks with special "arms" that lift the barrels overhead and shake the contents into the truck, you can only use city-provided barrels.
Last edited by celia on Thu Jul 13, 2017 3:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

Post by flamesabers » Thu Jul 13, 2017 3:25 pm

pizza8822 wrote:
flamesabers wrote:
pizza8822 wrote:Seems similar to any other public service like schools, water, roads, etc. that you must pay as a resident via property tax or indirectly through rent.
I disagree with this statement. There are already numerous private companies that can just as easily take away your garbage and recycling. Alternatively, homeowners can just take their own garbage and recycling to the city's landfill/incinerator/recycling plant. I don't object to there being a public option for garbage and recycling services, (maybe some homeowners prefer having one less bill to pay?) but I don't like the idea of the city mandating you to pay for a service when you can just as easily buy the service from a private company.
I see where you're coming from, but why not take it further? I can hire a private security company to keep me safe. I can hire someone to bring me water via truck. Can I get a refund for my police and water bills? I think the point is if 99.9 percent of people use the public service, it might make sense to have it flow through the city government.
Police aren't a good example because of the free rider problem. If the police arrest most of the criminals in your area, you benefit from not being a victim of crime. As for water, you could buy your own bottled water and decrease your water bill to the point of it being non-existent.

My point was that garbage and recycling collection doesn't need to be a public service. If a private garbage company provides poor service or charges outrageous fees, you can switch to a different garbage company. When the garbage company is run by the city, you either have to endure the poor service and pay the outrageous fees, or you have to move to a different city.

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Re: can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

Post by celia » Thu Jul 13, 2017 3:29 pm

flamesabers wrote:My point was that garbage and recycling collection doesn't need to be a public service. If a private garbage company provides poor service or charges outrageous fees, you can switch to a different garbage company. When the garbage company is run by the city, you either have to endure the poor service and pay the outrageous fees, or you have to move to a different city.
Instead of looking at the extreme "solutions", you could take the middle road and complain to your city council to improve it. (If they don't, you can vote them out of office in favor of someone who WILL fix the problem. That is why we have elected officials.)

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Re: can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

Post by Thesaints » Thu Jul 13, 2017 3:30 pm

200 years ago sewers were not considered necessary and best left to individual initiative.

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Re: can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

Post by celia » Thu Jul 13, 2017 3:35 pm

Thesaints wrote:200 years ago sewers were not considered necessary and best left to individual initiative.
... and diseases. Now cities have sewers as it contributes to the public good.

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Re: can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

Post by flamesabers » Thu Jul 13, 2017 3:47 pm

celia wrote:
flamesabers wrote:My point was that garbage and recycling collection doesn't need to be a public service. If a private garbage company provides poor service or charges outrageous fees, you can switch to a different garbage company. When the garbage company is run by the city, you either have to endure the poor service and pay the outrageous fees, or you have to move to a different city.
Instead of looking at the extreme "solutions", you could take the middle road and complain to your city council to improve it. (If they don't, you can vote them out of office in favor of someone who WILL fix the problem. That is why we have elected officials.)
I think it's much easier to vote with your money and switch to a different garbage then to try to lobby your local officials for change. (For one you don't have to wait until the next election to get the change you want). Imagine if every time you had a grievance with your bank/TV/phone/insurance company, you had to go through your city council to fix it? :shock:

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Re: can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

Post by Thesaints » Thu Jul 13, 2017 3:51 pm

flamesabers wrote: I think it's much easier to vote with your money and switch to a different garbage then to try to lobby your local officials for change. (For one you don't have to wait until the next election to get the change you want). Imagine if every time you had a grievance with your bank/TV/phone/insurance company, you had to go through your city council to fix it? :shock:
Again, why not for schools then ?

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Re: can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

Post by flamesabers » Thu Jul 13, 2017 3:56 pm

celia wrote:
Thesaints wrote:200 years ago sewers were not considered necessary and best left to individual initiative.
... and diseases. Now cities have sewers as it contributes to the public good.
I'm fine with the city running the sewers as there isn't a viable alternative.

I think private companies can handle garbage and recycling collection just fine. Plenty of private companies have their own fleet of trucks to handle such a task. The same can't be said for sewers.
Thesaints wrote:
flamesabers wrote: I think it's much easier to vote with your money and switch to a different garbage then to try to lobby your local officials for change. (For one you don't have to wait until the next election to get the change you want). Imagine if every time you had a grievance with your bank/TV/phone/insurance company, you had to go through your city council to fix it? :shock:
Again, why not for schools then ?
That's beyond the scope of this thread.

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Re: can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

Post by celia » Thu Jul 13, 2017 4:45 pm

flamesabers wrote:
celia wrote:
flamesabers wrote:My point was that garbage and recycling collection doesn't need to be a public service. If a private garbage company provides poor service or charges outrageous fees, you can switch to a different garbage company. When the garbage company is run by the city, you either have to endure the poor service and pay the outrageous fees, or you have to move to a different city.
Instead of looking at the extreme "solutions", you could take the middle road and complain to your city council to improve it. (If they don't, you can vote them out of office in favor of someone who WILL fix the problem. That is why we have elected officials.)
I think it's much easier to vote with your money and switch to a different garbage then to try to lobby your local officials for change. (For one you don't have to wait until the next election to get the change you want). Imagine if every time you had a grievance with your bank/TV/phone/insurance company, you had to go through your city council to fix it? :shock:
I'd rather call my city council (and I often do). They are quite responsive. You'd have to call one or more trash companies, wouldn't you, then maybe the next one could be even worse. And moving (when you own the house already) can be VERY expensive.

Maybe the problem is that you don't even know who your elected city officials are? Or you've never spoken with them?

My city contracted out for private trash pick-up for a while, but they were more expensive than hiring employees (even with public pensions). And the city didn't have much control over how the private company ran. It had problems too, that the citizens would report to the city.

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Re: can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

Post by flamesabers » Thu Jul 13, 2017 4:58 pm

celia wrote:I'd rather call my city council (and I often do). They are quite responsive. You'd have to call one or more trash companies, wouldn't you, then maybe the next one could be even worse. And moving (when you own the house already) can be VERY expensive.

Maybe the problem is that you don't even know who your elected city officials are? Or you've never spoken with them?
As I stated in an earlier post, I'm not opposed to the idea of a city having a public option for homeowners to pay for garbage and recycling directly from their property taxes. Some people like yourself would probably appreciate having such an option. Some people don't mind shopping around for a better deal. Why not keep both possibilities available to the benefit of everyone?

What I'm opposed to is mandating everyone pay for the public option when there are viable alternatives available. I'm not saying homeowners shouldn't be responsible for their garbage and recycling items. I'm just saying people should have the freedom to decide who they're going to pay to handle their garbage and recycling.

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Re: can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Thu Jul 13, 2017 5:15 pm

The stated reason for our switch to single mandatory waste hauler was to cut down on the number of truck on the streets. Before, you might have three or four companies picking up on the same block, trash/recycling/yard waste.
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Re: can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

Post by bberris » Thu Jul 13, 2017 9:14 pm

F150HD wrote:Is it legal for a City to mandate that a homeowner has curbside recycling service? and charge them for it in/on their property tax? even if as a separate 'fee' on the prop tax bill (pays for local private hauler to pick up your recycling 1x a week)

same question about garbage service (private hauler, not City owned)

Thanks.

(Question isn't about the 'ethics' of recycling and whats 'good' for the planet by the way. Not looking for a moral debate on recycling. Thank you.)
The city can mandate that and much more: they can force you to sell your property for private use, they can tell you how much you have to pay your employees, how much sick leave they can take... Mandated garbage pick up looks like a nothing burger compared to those.

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Re: can a city mandate garbage & recycling service? is that legal?

Post by LadyGeek » Thu Jul 13, 2017 10:11 pm

This thread has run its course and is locked (legal issue). See: Acceptable Topics and Subforum Guidelines
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