As expected, the Board Selectmen voted 2-2 Wednesday night to defeat a proposal to provide trash removal at condominium buildings. The issue, which has been debated in town for 30 years, died, leaving condo owners as they are, paying for trash pickup in their condo fees.
Representatives of several condominiums attended the vote, packing the small room where the selectmen meet.
"I just want to treat every resident of Swampscott the same. It is not fair," said Board Chairman Richard Malagrifa.
He clashed with Vice Chairman David Van Dam, who opposed the condo trash pickup because it would cost the town money. "Everyone's taxes will go up if we pick up trash for the condos," he said.
Selectman Barry Greenfield joined Malagrifa in supporting the change, while Selectman Glenn Kessler voted with Van Dam.
The state ethics board actually killed the measure when it ruled that Selectman Jill Sullivan could not vote on the question because she owns a condominium. It is believed that Sullivan supported the measure to pick up trash at the condos.
Town Administrator Thomas Younger also opposed the measure, saying the town faces a variety of financial issues, including less money from the state government. "We need to utilize those savings (from the trash program) in other areas," he said.
Karen Ferro, who is on the board of one condominium association, said Swampscott has the second highest property tax rate in Essex County. To pick up the condominium trash would "show some benefit for those who do not have children in the schools," she said.
Patty Ryan, who works in the management company for three of the condominium complexes, said she has been working to get the town to pick up the trash at the condominiums for 30 years. She said she has been told for most of those 30 years that it was just not the right time. "Tonight would be the right time," she said.
The town put the burden of picking up the trash on the condominium developers in the late 1960s and 1970s as part of the agreement to get the town to allow the condominiums to be built.
Van Dam said that agreement is outlined in the purchase agreements every condo owner signs.