Selectmen to Consider Changes to Hamilton's Biweekly Trash Collection Plan
The Hamilton Board of Selectmen plan to consider "supplement" its new biweekly trash collection plan with a pay-per-bag collection system on the "off" week.
Trash pick-up – for a fee – on the “off” week is one of the changes to Hamilton’s newest trash collection plan that will be on the table for Hamilton Selectmen on Monday night.
in October, the Board of Selectmen, in a 3-2 vote, implemented changes to the way the town will collect trash, recycling and organics in a plan that’s known as SMART – saving money and reducing trash.
The plan adds single stream weekly recycling collection plus weekly organics collections but cuts trash collection back to one barrel biweekly. It would replace the existing collection system, where each household gets to throw out one trash barrel per week included in their taxes and pay a per-bag fee for additional trash, in addition to biweekly recycling and several hundred homes who paid $75 for organics collection.
The changes are scheduled to go into place in March.
Since the plan was approved, there has been vocal opposition from residents who object to biweekly trash collection, raising concerns ranging from whether it will create unsanitary conditions during the summer to questions about what residents will do with dirty diapers accumulating for two weeks.
One of those with concerns about half as many trash pickup days is Matt Nevins, who wrote to selectmen proposing that if selectmen plan to stand by its original plan that residents be allowed to pay per bag for weekly pickup.
Nevins called the move to biweekly trash collection a “huge issue.”
“From my perspective, the biggest thing is the cut in service,” Nevins told selectmen last week during a two hour long work session to discuss the new trash collection plan.
Ideally, Nevins said he prefers weekly trash, recycling and organics collection – the same as Wenham will put in place next year.
Resident Bob Gray told selectmen the approved changes also increase services, since recycling goes to weekly collection and would be single stream, meaning all recyclable items can be thrown together in one bin. Weekly organics collection for all residents, included at no additional charge, is also an increased service, Gray said.
The new trash plan also has vocal supporters. One of them – Rick Mitchell of Rock Maple Avenue – told Selectmen last week that the board has made the right move.
Mitchell encouraged selectmen to move ahead to implement the approved plan and force opponents to push the issue to Town Meeting, where they would have to explain to voters why they oppose the town saving as much as $150,000 per year with the new trash collection plan, Mitchell said.
“You did the right thing,” Mitchell said. “You took a relatively bold stand.”
Mitchell said he wants selectmen to save the town as much money as possible and does not think selectmen should “capitulate to the vocal minority.”
On Monday night when the Board of Selectmen meets at 7 p.m. at Hamilton Town Hall, board chairman Jennifer Scuteri said she will, at first, ask the board whether it wants to “supplement” the program as approved.
“If they do want to consider it we would have a conversation,” Scuteri said in an interview on Friday. “The way I will present it is that what we adopted is not going away but it could be supplemented.”
The pay-per-bag collection on the “off” week was the leading change that was discussed when selectmen met last week. A financial analysis of the plan was included in a comparison chart of the various plans, including the approved plan, which is attached as a PDF to this story.
Despite the changes that are on the table, the approved plan has more support than she originally though, Scuteri said.
Scuteri said she has received many e-mails from residents saying they are glad selectmen have found a way to save $100,000, or more, annually without cutting any staff.
Many others, Scuteri said, share Mitchell’s view.
“He echoes the view of a lot of people,” she said.
The change – if approved – would mean that the per-bag fee would be enough to cover the cost to collect and dispose of all the trash on the “off” week. Scuteri said the per-bag fee but would not be much different than the exiting fee ($1.75) or fees in nearby communities such as Manchester-by-the-Sea ($2) and Boxford ($2.50).
“The numbers would be run to figure out what’s necessary,” she said.