Driver businesses should take responsibility

Published 8:17 pm Monday, August 16, 2010

Nobody knows why or how it all started, but 15 years ago, a handful of businesses in Driver began getting a benefit that no other businesses in the city receive. For the past decade and a half, they have received free trash-pickup services from the city.

Residential garbage collection is free all around the city. And businesses located within a special downtown taxing district get the benefit of thrice-weekly collection by virtue of a special added tax that they pay to cover the service. Only in Driver, though, has the service been provided to businesses without requiring extra tax charges.

It was an obvious mistake in the system that allowed the exception to the garbage collection rules to be made in the small village. While it might be interesting to know how that mistake originated, ultimately identifying the guilty parties is really not all that important. What is important right now and as the city moves forward is how Suffolk’s City Council and administration choose to handle the situation.

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It’s understandable that the Driver businesses would like to retain the benefit of free disposal of their garbage. However, that benefit gives them an unfair advantage over other city businesses, which must pay for the same service either through contracts with private disposal companies or indirectly through extra city taxes. Since it is not Suffolk’s business to favor one business over another, it can hardly be expected that the city will allow the situation to go unchanged.

In fact, Suffolk should act sooner rather than later on the issue. During their meeting Wednesday, City Council members should set a date within the next 90 days for the Department of Public works to cease collecting garbage from Driver businesses. There likely will be some minor complaints about the change. But it will be hard for anybody to claim that the businesspeople in Driver are being treated unfairly after 15 years of free garbage collection.