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Keyser: Trash Plan Lacks Support

Many comments from folks in both towns have been made opposed to changing the trash plan.

Hopefully, the rain has finally stopped so we can get on with enjoying the nice fall weather. The rain did keep the dust down, as the man says, if nothing else.

So, on to things happening in the two towns. And judging by the recent story in Patch.com regarding the pay-as-you-throw trash plan - and the many comments made by folks in both towns - this is one plan that does not enjoy much support with town folks.

In reading the many comments, the impression is that most folks feel that it’s a tax, regardless of how its listed.

And most folks who made comments on the possible trash plan also felt that they are already paying for the weekly trash pickup when they pay their real estate tax bill.

In reading over the many comments, one comment stands out - why does the existing trash plan with one free barrel each week, which is working well, all of the sudden need to be changed to this new plan?

And what it seems to come down to is that this plan is one to raise more funds for the town and has less to do with how much the trash tonnage is lowered. It's also a push to turn the town in a “green” town. In the long run, as one town official stated, this plan can actually cost folks more than it really from the reduced cost of picking up trash.

The one big mistake that I hope won’t take place is the Board of Selectmen bringing this subject to a board meeting and voting to put into practice. This possible project needs to be taken to a town meeting for discussion and vote, and allow the voters to decide if they want the plan or not.

Right now, this plan is being pushed by the boards, who do not listen well, as many folks in both towns are speaking out and saying they don’t like the plan and that the plan now in place is just fine and it should be left alone.

I hope that selectmen’s meetings in both towns will find town folks attending who will tell the board members what they feel about the trash plan. As voters of the towns, it's your right to tell your board members how you feel about town business.

That’s it for this week. Maybe we can see some dry days for a while before that white stuff starts appearing. Remember, not one shred of evidence supports the fact that life is serious. Think about that.

Bye, bye.

john September 12, 2011 at 12:00 PM
At a minimum this should go to the town for a vote. The selectmen should just scrap it all together.
Bob Gray September 12, 2011 at 12:45 PM
At the Friday Morning forum this is basically what they came up with: I actually liked the final programs they decided to do more research on. basically they will check into 2 programs, both of which include keeping the free barrel. We made it very clear that keeping the free barrel was paramount! The 2 programs they will check into are basically what I suggested. They will probably collect regular trash every other week. Increase recycling collection to once a week, continue compost collection once a week. They will go to single steam recycling and will check into either supplying every household with a special barrel that allows the contractor to pick it up with arms on the truck and dump it without the driver even getting out of the truck. Very low labor cost. The other option is to go with single stream recycling without the special barrel. they also will check into the digester for the composting to be built on the old dump site and try to get other towns to join in for a fee??
john September 12, 2011 at 01:05 PM
Bob, thanks for the update and effort put in. But if they pick up trash every other week that is still reducing the trash pick up for those that use 1 barrel a week, is it not? Not to mention I don't really want my trash sitting around for 2 weeks.
Leigh M Keyser September 12, 2011 at 03:43 PM
the comments in my column are from folks in both towns, and seem to say, if its not broken, leave it alone. Its working fine. The green thing is getting used as a excuse to fix a working plan.
Bob Gray September 12, 2011 at 08:46 PM
The bottom line is that the towns are trying to find ways to get the tipping fees down which the cost of will inevitably continue to go up. This program will force people to do more recycling and those who don't will have to pay extra. I'm not a big fan of forcing people into programs but I do think in the end this will save all of us money. That's my motive.....
john September 12, 2011 at 08:53 PM
OK well I guess we will have to agree to disagree. Where are the savings going to go? I am certain cuts can be made other places to offset the cost of tipping fees.
Bill Bowler September 12, 2011 at 09:04 PM
Actually beyond the first bag/barrel, the bag sale revenue covers the tipping fee (1 ton/2000 lbs / 50 lb bag limit x $1.75 = $70.00). This is more than the current tipping fee per ton. Raise the price of the bag & you will more than cover the tipping fee. Since only one bag is allowed, the total amount of the tipping fee will only go up if the per ton figure goes up. I believe it maxes out at $72/ton under the current contract. This is the only variable cost for trash collection. The collection costs are fixed under the contract & are unrelated to how we pay for trash.
john September 12, 2011 at 09:07 PM
Great, sounds like we don't need to change the current program.
Michelle Bailey September 13, 2011 at 08:30 PM
If we really want to encourage people to decrease their trash, couldn't we just charge $2.50-$3.50 per extra bag. Why are we selling bags? Don't most towns sell stickers to adhere to bags? Do we really want to encourage people to use more plastic bags; put your extra trash bags in our special blue or green bags?
Jack September 14, 2011 at 01:31 PM
This is not rocket science, it's not complicated and it really needs to be left alone if Bill's figures are correct. Trash collection every two weeks? That halves the "one free bag" allowance right there, and leaves us with smelly trash for an extra week - a non starter for anyone who actually thinks. If you miss the trash you live with it for a MONTH - great plan Einstein. If, as Bill says, the current additional bag fees cover the tipping fees, then sell cheaper stickers instead of bags (greener and saves the town money) or put an extra $1 per sticker if it's necessary (which it sounds like it isn't, but the town has never shied from increased income before). Simply put, we KNOW that any "savings" will not be passed on to the tax payer, but the Selectmen seem keen to ADD a "user fee" for trash, which of course is exactly the same as a tax increase - this is a typical back door tax that hides behind a pseudonym. The additional bag/stickers are discretionary and thus not taxes as they can be avoided by judicious recycling and conservation efforts. I, for one, am fed up with meddling officials justifying their time with pointless programs while studiously ignoring the will of the people - it's arrogant, condescending and counter productive.
richard e damato September 14, 2011 at 02:22 PM
See it for what it is, just another tax without a corresponding reduction in the tax rate.
Bill Bowler September 14, 2011 at 03:41 PM
As I demonstrated in an earlier post, the households which use the green/blue bags are paying their own way and covering the tipping fee. The only place that there is the possibility of true net savings is if households increase the amount of recycling & further reduce the amount spent on tipping fees. If we assume that the recycling rate goes from 30% to 40%, which seems optimistic but possible, the reduction in tipping fees for both communities would be about $28K - $19k for Hamilton & $9k for Wenham. This is about $8.60/household. The communities need to decide if this amount of possible savings is worth the change and disruption in service.
Jack September 14, 2011 at 04:20 PM
Actually Bill, I don't think the communities do need to decide to be honest. If the saving per household is under $9 (not that they would ever see that saving) and a considerably higher user fee would be imposed, why bother? There must be more important things for our town officials to be doing than trying to find ways for us to "save money" which actually end up costing the embattled townsfolk more money! I am not prepared to pay a user fee in order to "save money" that will never be returned to me.
Tyson Goodridge September 14, 2011 at 08:26 PM
Times are a changin' folks. And change, well, is good. It's nice to dream of a perfect world where we get our trash picked up, our recycling taken care of, and more... San Francisco, for example, recycles 30-54% of its waste. Why don't we? Or put another way, do we really NEED trash pickup? It's a luxury we don't need. Do what Wellesley does and have everyone do it themselves. If you are too lazy or busy to do it- pay someone to do it for you. Let the fireworks begin... :-)
john September 14, 2011 at 10:24 PM
Who cares what San Francisco does? 30%-54% is a pretty big range and I am sure we do 30%. I wouldn't be apposed to having the town completely out of it. But I would want whatever they have budgeted as an expense to come out of the budget and back to the taxpayers. But we all know that would never happen.
Jack September 15, 2011 at 01:05 PM
Tyson - no fireworks are necessary this shouldn't be a contentious issue, it's just too simple. We will be paying for this "luxury" either way. We all know that even if trash collection was stopped entirely it wouldn't affect our taxes by one dime, there has never been a proposal to return any "savings" to the taxpayer. The concept that "change is good" is obviously irrelevant - change can be wonderful, tragic, good, bad or indifferent, however, change for the sake of change is always pointless and usually comes with a side order of unintended consequences. To champion "change" because you believe it's always good is to ignore the fact that no-one is complaining about the status quo. Finally, you say that anyone who is lazy, busy (or presumably, elderly, disabled or otherwise unable) should simply "pay someone" to take their trash away... which brings us full circle... that's what they are doing now with no complaints.
Bill Bowler September 15, 2011 at 05:39 PM
What follows is based on the SMART committee's own memo of August 23. The currently predicted savings according to Hamilton's town manager are $50-75k. In order to achieve this amount of savings from a reduction in the tipping fee the recycling rate would have to about double from the current approximately 30%. The current one bag system was instituted in March 2008 in FY 2009. We tend to forget that both communities had recycling programs before this. In FY 2007 the combined recycling rate was 23.99%, in FY 2008 it was 31.43%. In FY 2009 with one bag introduced mid-year, the rate was 29.76% and in FY 2010 31.59%. When we went from unlimted "free" trash to one bag, the increases were modest at best. To assume that the rate will double by eliminating the "free" bag is fanciful.
john September 15, 2011 at 05:52 PM
If these numbers are correct it makes the idea even more idiotic. If this is really about savings then 50K-75K could easily be saved in other areas of the budget. I am sure there are some administrative positions that pay this much that could easily be eliminated.
Tyson Goodridge September 16, 2011 at 07:38 PM
i'm ok with that too!

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