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Hempstead to end backdoor garbage pickup next month

Hempstead Town officials say they will save more than $1 million annually by ending backdoor garbage pickup for about 12,000 homes.

Homeowners in Merrick, North Merrick, Lido Beach, Point Lookout and Bellmore were notified this week that the town would end the service that has been offered for the past 50 years on July 25.

The town serves about 84,000 homes with garbage collection, but only about 15 percent of those homes have backdoor pickup, stemming from when the town continued the practice offered by private garbage collection companies.

Town officials believe ending the program will save more than $1 million each year by reducing worker hours and equipment. Such a reduction could lead to about 24 fewer workers, who will be either reassigned or reduced through attrition.

“In an effort to increase cost effective operations, we can serve more customers in a quicker fashion and offer more thorough service,” Hempstead Town spokesman Mike Deery said.

The tax rate for garbage collection will not be affected by eliminating the service. Residents who previously had the service did not pay any additional taxes, officials said. The town already requires that recycling, yard waste and bulk pickup all go to the front of the house.

The planned changes are to make pickup uniform throughout the town at the lowest possible cost, Hempstead Sanitation Commissioner Kenneth Pritchard said in a letter to residents.

Some residents have protested the service ending, saying that particular elderly or handicapped residents need the convenience of backdoor service.

Peter McBrien, 74, of Merrick said he has had two hip replacements and has relied on garbage pickup from the back of his house. He said he would rather pay more taxes than see the service come to an end.

“The bottom line is we pay taxes that include pickup in the back,” McBrien said. “Why pick on people who count on this service because of their infirmities?”

Town officials said the end of the service is final with no exceptions and all residents pay for the same service.

“We’re certainly sympathetic to all residents and encourage neighbors to help neighbors,” Deery said.

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