Philanthropy and Trash Collection Fees

It is not uncommon for legislators to put something unpopular at the end of a popular proposal. And the recent garbage collection fee targeting universities, religious institutions and nonprofits in New York is clearly not popular, at least according to the July 4th Wall Street Journal.

What is this fee? It’s a fee that, so it is argued, is essentially an incentive for nonprofits to recycle. Of course it’s arguable that non-profits generate any more waste than other agencies.  And being that it is an election year, one must wonder if there is an issue here. It also may just be a way for one of the many cash strapped local economies to raise a little bit of extra revenue in a seemingly noble way.

Many of these non profits may depend on state and federal funding to operate. In addition, nonprofits like churches rely on public donations. In that case, the taxpayers would be paying the nonprofits to have their trash emptied. The tax would essentially amount to a reuse of the already scarce public funding that allows nonprofits to operate.

Given the cash-strapped nature of the market, one has to wonder what happens if these organizations can’t afford the new fee. If cities move in this direction, what happens to the trash the companies are not paid to collect?

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