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St. Joseph County leaf pickup program already raising questions

Published: Aug. 24, 2020 at 6:13 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - It’s less than a week old yet some questions and concerns are already being raised about the new St. Joseph County leaf pickup program.

“So we’ve asked some of our neighbors around here and then I’m on a neighborhood site and I’ve not seen a single person say that they were successful in getting the discounted early bird pricing,” said Penn Township resident Janet Shulaw.

A special discounted rate package was offered to attract early bird subscribers.

One county official says it sold out in about 36 hours.

The dirt cheap-heavily subsidized package kept customer costs between $39 and $99.

The county agreed to pay $232 to a private contractor as a subsidy for each of the first 1,500 subscribers. “Roughly $349,000 dollars to pay for basically upfront operational, administrative, program costs that then subsidized the rate that St. Joe County recycling then charges the interested resident to participate,” said St Joseph County Engineer Jessica Clark.

A $99 leaf pickup package sounded pretty good to Henry Catalino. “Applied, and then received a note back that said that you missed the opportunity and that your rate right now would be $219 dollars versus the $99.”

The note Henry received from the private contractor hired to do the work said his quote of $219 was about 40%+/- of the open market price due to county subsidy.

“I felt that this was subsidized money coming from taxpayers and for the council to randomly select a bonus program if you want to call it that that certain people would get a discount if they sign up quickly, you know in my mind, I don’t think there was ever a problem that they were going to get 1,500,” said Catalino.

Janet Shulaw said she too was told she applied too late for the early bird rates. “We went on line it said for high density it was $99 so we went in right away signed up for it and then we get this notification that it’s $219 and then $695 it feels like they were doing a bait and switch.”

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