Trash Tax

We are lucky to be part of the 25% of homes in Houston with single-stream recycling. If you are not, your big bin may be a long time coming. Without a mandatory trash collection fee, which two mayors have rejected, Houston can’t afford to roll out the program citywide.

Our new 96-gallon bin has been filled to the brim most weeks. I’m particularly delighted that the bins accept glass. I’m feeling incredibly virtuous recycling all kinds of things I used to toss.

Sure, I could have dragged those bottles to one of the drop-off centers, and every once in a while I did, but I admit—I got lazy.

In college, recycling bins literally lined the streets. You could recycle paper, plastic, and aluminum not just in classrooms and dorms, but as you walked down the major streets in town. We visited a few weeks back, and the specialized cans are still there.

Of course, this was a town that tried to charge me a $10 fee when I registered to vote. Since the poll tax was banned by the 24th amendment in 1964, I didn’t pay. I think, however, that they were just taking advantage of my being in the city office to try to get me to pay for some other city services, and it just inconveniently looked like a poll tax. I hope.

My point is that eventually, we have to pay for municipal services. It makes me sad to think that politicians are so fearful of being branded tax + spend liberals that they don’t have the will to force us to confront the fact that there ain’t no free.

Now, it could well be that I don’t know the whole story. The fee being proposed by the solid waste director, $3.50 per month, would not be a burden for me. I am sure there are those for whom an extra $42 per year might be one fee too many, but it does seem like just about the most minimal fee we could possibly get.

Can somebody explain why the current and immediate past mayor won’t consider instituting this fee and making Houston the same as all other major U.S. cities that require a fee for garbage service?

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