Recycling & Trash - Perfect together?

MAYOR NUTTER visits the 2500 block of Gordon Street, in Fishtown, yesterday to kick off the 3rd annual Philly Spring Cleanup campaign. He cited the block's recovery from blight, which was spotlighted in a Daily News story in December.

Two pieces in today's Daily News take off on Mayor Nutter's proposed trash pickup fee from different directions.

In our news page, Catherine Lucey looks at the Recycling Rewards program from the standpoint of the trash fee: Will savings people receive via coupons (in exchange for their recycling achievement) make up for the extra charge for trash?

Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez, a critic of the trash fee, applauded efforts to increase recycling, but questioned whether coupons would truly defray the added trash bill.

"I don't see one offsetting the other," she said. "I don't see any scenario where one offsets the other."

Budget Director Steve Agostini said yesterday that the administration was reviewing whether it could provide credits that could be used to pay the trash fee. Finance Director Rob Dubow said the administration would review the financial impact of such an idea.

And in the Opinion section, Philly's former managing director, Phil Goldsmith, says we should face the fact that the trash fee looks inevitable unless we suddenly discover some other form of funding, because the city's broke. But he points out that we don't have to do it just as Nutter says.

Municipalities charging separately for trash pickup isn't new. It started four decades ago in Seattle and is now common in this area, though many of our neighbors charge less than Nutter is asking.

A sample: Abington ($230), Lansdowne ($224), Haverford ($135), Lower Merion ($242), Upper Darby ($130). And in some spots, trash is picked up twice a week.

Of course, reducing the proposed levy will require the mayor and Council to make up the shortfall elsewhere. But that's not such a bad thing. There is a lot of room to take actions that won't cause doomsday but may eliminate what's no longer necessary. The Nutter budget proposal is just the opening gambit, the beginning of a long negotiating dance with City Council.

All this while Nutter launches yet another trash-related campaign, the 3rd annual Philly Spring Cleanup (see photo). Just like trash itself, it looks as if this crucial issue isn't going to go away any time soon.

UPDATE 3/12: Two more takes on the trash-fee issue in today's paper, again one from news, one from Opinion: