West Mifflin residents await trash retrieval decision

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The 1,000-plus residents of West Mifflin's Riverview Homes Association who have been fighting a borough decision on garbage collection fees could learn next week whether they will have to start paying them.

The association received a letter in October from borough manager Brian Kamauf stating that services no longer would be provided for the 450 homes in the community.

The borough cites a 1990 ordinance that precludes certain multiunit housing complexes, along with commercial and industrial properties. Those property owners make their own arrangements for trash removal and pay a separate fee for the service.

"We're trying to be consistent," Mr. Kamauf explained, saying his office has sent out 38 such notification letters. "It's not fair to the residents who do have to pay."

The association appealed the borough's decision, and borough council held a public hearing Wednesday night at which about 20 residents attended. At the end of the hearing, borough solicitor Gregory Evashavik suggested council take a week to reconsider its decision to terminate the service and vote on the matter at its legislative meeting Tuesday.

The residents contend that unlike some other multifamily complexes, they own their homes as individuals and pay borough taxes accordingly, so they should be entitled to the garbage collection service.

"They'd be asked to double-pay," said Maximilian Beier, attorney for the association. "They're going to be subsidizing everyone else's trash collection."

He said most of the residents are senior citizens on fixed incomes, along with people who earn low to moderate wages.

"To expect them to pay additionally for this service is something they can't afford and something they don't think is just."

If the borough were to provide paid garbage collection for the association, the annual cost would be about $54,000.

The U.S. government built the Riverview dwellings in 1941. The Riverview Homes Association was created as a nonprofit corporation in 1955, buying the complex from the government for $1.

Residents pay a monthly charge to the association that averages about $350 per home. Most of the money goes toward maintenance; long-term upgrades; and water, sewer and tax payments. The association employs a manager and part-time bookkeeper, and retains the services of a solicitor.

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Harry Funk, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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