SAN ANTONIO - Some people save money when they go on vacation by suspending newspaper delivery, their gym membership and other services they won't be using while they're away. A News 4 WOAI viewer wants to know why the City of San Antonio won't let you do that with trash collection. He asked Trouble Shooter Jaie Avila to look into a city policy he thinks needs to be dumped.
A viewer named Shane talked to us via Skype because he's spending the summer up in Washington State. Before leaving he looked at his CPS Energy bill, where the city also charges him for trash collection, and saw how he might be able to save about $20 a month.
Shane says, “I contacted CPS Energy to see if I could get the solid waste portion of my CPS bill suspended, or put on hold, for the time we're going to be gone.”
Some privately run trash haulers in the area will allow you to do that, so it seemed like a reasonable request to Shane. However, the city's Solid Waste Services Department said "no way". It claims a city ordinance prevents them from suspending trash pick up fees during vacations.
“I'm being forced to pay for solid waste collection whether I'm there using it or not. It's ridiculous, it's like ripping off the consumer, I think”, Shane told us.
So we took Shane's complaint to the Director of Solid Waste Services, David McCary, who told me under the city's billing system trash pick-up and CPS Energy service are permanently linked. You can't suspend trash collection, unless you turn off the power at your home.
“Our services are linked to our CPS Energy bill, if the CPS Energy lights are on, then our service is on. If they're off, then our services are notified, then we stop service to that residential customer”, McCary says.
McCary says a lot of other cities do it that way, including El Paso, Austin, Beaumont and Irving. We checked, and he’s right about that.
McCary says another reason Shane still has to pay is because of the special, twice-a-year, bulky trash pick up. Your monthly fee also goes to pay for those crews, as well as brush collection and the rental of your trash bins.
Bottom line: the city says your monthly garbage fee is not a subscription you can suspend when you're out of town. It's more like the payment you make on your car. It's due every month, regardless of how much you use it.