Mayor Steven Fulop Jersey City
Mayor Steven Fulop Jersey City

Mayor Fulop has announced that a controversial solid waste fee that was tied to a property’s water usage, also known as the “water tax,” will be replaced with a flat monthly fee. The unpopular “tax” began appearing on property tax bills as a new line item early this year after the city assigned the trash removal contract to the Municipal Utilities Authority [MUA].

In a press release issued today, the mayor said “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.”

According to the plan announced today, instead of a rate tied to water usage, each unit will pay a flat $12.50 per month, including tax abated properties.

Historically, fees for trash collection were covered by an owner’s property taxes.

Meera Jaffrey, who spoke about the tax at a press conference in August, was prompted to act after noticing a 25% increase in her bill from Suez. “In the 35 years I have lived in Jersey City I have never experienced such a sleight-of-hand maneuver such as this garbage tax that was slipped into our water bill without our direct knowledge,” she said. Jaffrey started a petition that has garnered close to 1000 signatures.

With the election on the horizon and a brewing revolt over the issue, the mayor suspended the charge saying that Suez, which supplies water to the MUA and handles the billing for trash pickup under the new system, had breached its agreement with the city and had used a flawed formula.

Said Ward E Councilman James Solomon today upon hearing of the mayor’s new plan “I am glad a citywide, community coalition fought the unfair water tax. The coalition saved working class homeowners hundreds in excess fees. On the surface, this new proposal is a significant improvement over the original water tax.”

Initially, the mayor defended the water tax, arguing that having the MUA take over the solid waste contract would force tax abated properties to pay for trash removal where they hadn’t in the past. The mayor reiterated that point in today’s press release.

“The City historically used an outside vendor for waste disposal services until January 2021, when the MUA officially accepted the assignment of the solid waste contract. This allowed for restructuring to create a more equitable solution to waste collection expenses that is fairer for Jersey City residents as tax abated buildings were previously exempt and did not pay the added costs for solid waste collection that residents of non-tax abated buildings have been paying for years.”

The mayor also said that the new flat rate “will result in a rate decrease for residents.” Councilman Solomon, however, counters that “it should now be subjected to a transparent and tough analysis prior to implementation.”

The revised fee will be reflected in the quarterly SUEZ Water bills at the start of the New Year. Those who previously paid in excess of the new flat rate for 2021 will be receiving a credit.

All solid waste collection services and pickup frequency will remain unchanged. Regional Industries will maintain the current garbage collection schedule with three weekly pickups for trash and recycling.  For questions, call the MUA at (201) 432-1150.

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Aaron Morrill

Aaron is a writer, musician and lawyer. Aaron attended Berklee College of Music and the State University of New York at Purchase. Aaron served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador. He received a J.D....