Reading’s single trash hauler ordinance stinks, protesters say | Berks and Beyond

Protesters gathered outside City Hall on Tuesday afternoon to let officials know they believe the new universal rubbish transport regulation stinks.

Dennis and Valerie McAfee, who live on River Road, have fought over their private freight forwarder in the past, but this was the first time they’d stood in front of City Hall asking for a say.

“They gave us a choice,” said Valerie McAfee, 66. “They allowed a referendum to be voted and it was rejected.”

“Why should Reading be able to take the revenue from the private hauliers?” Dennis McAfee, 64, asked.

“These are family businesses,” said Valerie McAfee. “They want us to support the local population. This supports the local. “

The McAfees vowed to continue paying their Robeson Township forwarder Keith Kemp Sanitation if efforts to repeal the ordinance fail.

“We’re going to pay double, but we’re still going to pay Keith Kemp,” said Valerie McAfee.

“We like Keith Kemp so much,” added Dennis McAfee. “He’s very responsible. He is very polite. “

More than 30 people with signs that read “Vote for local garbage trucks. My trash, my choice, ”lined Washington Street during the hour-long protest organized by the city-resident John Zatratz.

During the protest, several private garbage trucks, blowing their air horns, drove past the town hall in their trucks.

More than 20 people are protesting the # ReadingPa regulation on universal freight forwarders, including several private freight forwarders

– Jeremy Long (@jeremymlong) August 25, 2020

Cleon Kemp, owner of Cleon Kemp Sanitation in Exeter Township, stopped by to thank the protesters for their support.

“My family has been here for 65 years,” said Kemp. “Four generations. My son works for me and they try to take it away from us. “

If the regulation isn’t repealed, Kemp will lose more than half of its business.

“It would cripple me pretty badly,” he said. “I feel like we have to fight for a living. We’re doing everything we can to save our business. I appreciate all of these people in town trying to help us. “

Mayor Eddie Moran made a statement following the protest.

“I want to let her know that I hear you and see you,” he said. “As mayor, I recognize that some decisions are more difficult than others, but I make them to improve the city as a whole.”

Moran added that having a single freight forwarder will make the city cleaner.

Moran unveiled his plan for a single freight forwarder in May, and his government said it needed to be implemented quickly as the city’s contract with Republic Services expires later this year.

Only residential customers and residences with six or fewer units need to use the city’s carrier. Commercial properties and homes with seven or more units could choose a freight forwarder.

Zatratz plans to use the city’s referendum process, which will allow voters to request the review of an ordinance passed by the city council. If the council does not repeal the regulation, voters have the option to approve or reject the regulation in the next elections.

Earlier this month, he went to town hall, submitted his referendum notice and collected his petitions. He has to collect at least 2,000 signatures from city voters by September 8th.

If he is able to, a question will be put on the 2021 main ballot and voters will decide whether to repeal the ordinance.

Zatratz is upset about how the regulation has been enforced.

“When the city council started it, they knew it had previously been rejected by voters,” he said. “You made it through the pandemic.”

The council met for practically months to discuss the regulation before approving it in July.

Zatratz was happy with the turnout on Tuesday, but wasn’t surprised.

“Everyone who lives in the city knows what I’m talking about,” said Zatratz. “There’s a pride that you can’t get anywhere else. It’s hard work, sacrifice, and persistence. It’s grit. “

Jack Seibert, 40, has lived in his family home near Streets 14 and Pike since the 1970s.

“We want to privatize things,” said Seibert. “We want competition. You’re trying to get the American company involved, and we don’t want that. “

If the city goes forward with a universal tug, Seibert believes that it is a step backwards for the city.

“The fear for the people in this city is that their garbage bills could triple without fair competition,” said Seibert.

Seibert said Tuesday’s protest was just the beginning and wants residents to have choices about how the city is run.

“That has been lost,” he said. “Our goal is to vote on it so that the citizens of Reading can decide. Let the community decide. That is the point.

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