Nina Trasoff Channels Fred Ronstadt

I received, in my email, a letter from the Ward VI office that was sent out to those who, at one time or another, signed up for these distributions. Most of these letters disseminate information concerning roll-off services, West Nile virus, mosquitoes, etc. This particular letter was from Councilman Trasoff herself. It talks about the controversial fourteen-dollar garbage fee. Controversial, that is, only during her election cycle. It appears that she not only claims the office of former Councilman Ronstadt, but his words as well.

For those of us who love to be informative and entertaining, this letter could be called “a softball”.

Here’s the letter in its entirety, and some comments:

Message from Councilmember Nina Trasoff

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Ward6 Ward6

Let’s talk trash.
More to the point, let’s talk about that $12 Environmental Services
fee that was attached to your monthly water bill three years back.
During my campaign for City Council in 2005, I spoke out against the implementation of that fee – largely because of the way the previous City Council implemented it.

I could be wrong, but I think it was by vote.

· I took issue with how quickly the city putting a
$14-per-customer price tag on garbage collection and how steep the increase was from the existing $2 Brush & Bulky fee!

Tortured grammar aside… pardon me while I guess at the meaning here… The garbage fee was a new fee, not part of the brush and bulky fee, am I right? If the brush and bulky collections are three or four times a year, and trash collection is fifty-two time a year, fourteen dollars seems a bargain.

· It was sold to Tucsonans as a way to pay for more police
officers and firefighters and pave roads. The public deserved a
straightforward, transparent explanation, not a shell game.

If the explanation was a “shell game”, then why does she use the same explanation in this letter, “Let’s be honest. Trash collection never was free. Money from the general fund was used to cover garbage services at the expense of other programs, such as repairing residential streets and improving parks and park programming.”?

· It was short sighted and insensitive that the fee was
implemented without regard for those who could least afford this fee. The waiver system originally adopted was onerous and unreasonable, requiring residents to request a waiver – in person – every single month.

Oh Boo-Hoo! If Mrs. Trasoff is so sensitive, why do we not see new waiver programs for city water, sales tax, parking meters…

· Insult to injury was the fact that at the same time they
implemented the garbage fee, they delayed full implementation of
commercial impact fees by 7 years! Since taking office, I have helped lead the way to rectify these issues:

I’m sure that the original copy said “Adding insult to injury..”, the word “Adding” must have been lopped off in the transcription. Anyway, here’s what Jim Nintzel recently said in the Tucson Weekly:

“But the new commercial impact fees won’t be charged until January 2009. That’s a wee bit ironic, given that council members Nina Trasoff and Karin Uhlich complained mightily during their 2005 campaigns that their incumbent Republican opponents, Fred Ronstadt and Kathleen Dunbar, had delayed commercial impact fees.

Trasoff, who wanted commercial impact fees “as soon as legally possible” during her 2005 campaign, now says the Republicans’ old phase-in plan–which wouldn’t have had full fees being collected until 2011–just took too long. She believes that the delay for the new commercial impact fees strikes a reasonable balance.”

· We’ve implemented a fee waiver program that allows residents
to self-qualify once a year by mail rather than having to apply every
· We’ve accelerated implementation of commercial impact fees so that development will pay its share of the cost of increased city
services prompted by growth.
· We’ve separated Environmental Services from the Water
Department and hired a nationally recognized Director of Environmental Services – Andrew Quigley – to put his expertise on important environmental issues to work and to answer the question: how much does garbage really cost?

Hint: Competitive contracting would give us a pretty good idea.

Shortly after I joined the City Council, I did make a motion to
instruct staff to explore the feasibility of repealing the garbage fee.
That effort was defeated 5-2, with only Karin Uhlich joining me in

This was an excellent move politically. It provided cover from any fire coming from voters who may have felt, well, shall we say “misled” by her campaign rhetoric.

Let’s be honest. Trash collection never was free. Money from the
general fund was used to cover garbage services at the expense of other programs, such as repairing residential streets and improving parks and park programming.
And here’s the rub: the garbage fee is now three years old and the
city’s sustainability program, well underway, is dependent on
environmental services being self-sufficient as an enterprise fund.
Residential streets are being repaired, more police and firefighters are on the job, and Parks & Recreation facilities and programming are improved.
So where do we go from here? We’d pay a stiff price [$24-million/year from other services] were we to rescind the fee now — and most communities in Arizona do charge for trash collection – many with fees higher than ours!

That was her Fred Ronstadt impersonation. Not bad, I might add.

I feel good about what we have been able to accomplish: my primary concerns about fee waivers, joining Environmental Services with Water, and delaying commercial impact fees – these issues have all been resolved.
It’s time for us to move forward as a community, together. I’d
value any thoughts or perspectives you’d like to share on this – or
any other – issue.
Thank you for the honor of serving as your representative on the Tucson
City Council.

Councilmember Nina Trasoff, Ward VI
3202 East 1st Street
Tucson, Arizona 85716
520-791-4601 Office
520-791-3211 Fax