Garbage Fee Hike Moves Forward in Weirton

Following two months of discussions, Weirton City Council passed Monday the first reading of an ordinance aimed at increasing sanitation rates in the city with a goal of providing benefits for 10 employees.

After removing the ordinance from the table with a 6-0 vote, council approved its first reading 5-1, with Ward 6 Councilman Enzo Fracasso casting the lone dissenting vote. Ward 2 Councilman Matt Provenzano did not in attend.

Ward 4 Councilman George Ash moved for the ordinance to be voted on through an emergency reading, which would have required only one approval; however, the emergency vote needed to be unanimous.

The ordinance, if enacted by a second reading, would increase residential garbage fees by $4 per month. Currently, residential rates are $14.04 per month.

Council members voting in favor all explained they were doing so because their constituents expressed support for the proposal.

“I’ve had 12 people tell me to do this,” said Ward 3 Councilman Fred Marsh who also said only one or two residents in his ward have been against.

“I have not had one person object to it,” Ash said.

Ward 1 Councilman Tim Connell said many of his ward’s residents contacted him in support of the fee increase.

“They said yes,” said Connell. “I’m saying yes.”

Ward 5 Councilman Doug Jackson said he wants to make sure the employees are compensated for their work and that residents get the best service available.

“Nobody on this council wanted to take anything away from them,” Jackson said.

Fracasso explained his vote as the majority of residents he spoke with were against the fee increase.

“Like Tim said, I have to speak for my constituents,” Fracasso said.

The issue has been raised in recent months after Weirton resident Patricia Evano began circulating a petition requesting the “back-of-the-truck” sanitation employees to be granted benefits.

On Monday, Evano addressed council again, saying she had been notified of the 1,291 signatures on the petition, only 703 names had been certified by the city because of residency, sanitation accounts or having multiple signatures from the same household.

She said that aspect was not going to keep her from pushing forward on the campaign.

“We are not discouraged by this certification, because 703 still speaks volumes,” she said.

Resident Blaise Hogan also addressed council Monday questioning whether the costs associated with the benefits would be covered by the fee increase. Hogan had addressed council in May, saying he felt the benefits could be provided without increasing fees.

In a related matter, Weirton Council also passed a resolution, 6-0, for a new contract to dispose of municipal waste and recycling.

The city now will transport its garbage and recycling to the Brooke County landfill, with fees of $37 per ton for garbage and $40 per ton for recycling.

Council also convened into a 40-minute executive session to discuss personnel matters.