Some environmentally minded Port Coquitlam residents wanted to take part in the city’s food-composting program. They went to city hall and instead of being added to the composting list, they were charged back garbage pick up fees. It seems that the members of the 87 town home properties were never billed by the city. The error was discovered after a computer upgrade this past spring.
Now Port Coquitlam wants some $40,000 in back fees. The city can correct errors by collecting the current year, plus two prior years. This practice is practiced by other municipalities and is written in the bylaws.
Residents of one 25 unit complex, the Willow Glen Estates, believes that the government is being unreasonable about the charges, and are not being transparent about how they came to the amount of the charge. The city is putting a $530 levee on this year’s bill, which is three times the amount normally charged. Residents have until the end of 2011 to pay the fee. This is proving to be difficult because many in the complex are on fixed incomes.
The transparency issue is the bigger concern. The city made the error, never billing the residents. Why is it that the residents are responsible for that error? You can’t pay a bill you never received or knew anything about. Residents thought the garbage pick up was included in the taxes. The matter will be discussed at the next in camera council meeting.