Garbage ‘fee’ is regressive

Published 6:40 pm Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

Here we go again with the Town of Smithfield raising money by imposing a new “fee” on residents, as printed in the Fall Municipal Mailer. If the new $72.12 to be added to our real estate (tax) bills for refuse pickup was reported by The Smithfield Times at the time it was decided, I surely missed it.

Back when the town proposed a $10 monthly fee for trash pickup, I voiced my objection on the grounds that the fee would be regressive, falling more heavily on families less able to pay, and that a real estate tax increase producing the same total amount would remedy that. The town then agreeably abandoned the $120 annual fee and instead adopted a 3-cent real estate tax increase.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

But now, apparently to avoid the dreaded word “tax,” they have gone back to assessing a new, additional annual “fee” of $72.12. What this means is that a family whose home is assessed at $55,400 will feel a burden 12.5 times as heavy as a family having a $692,500 assessment (both actual figures from Isle of Wight assessment data), which is grossly regressive and inequitable. We can and should do better than this.

Dave Goodridge