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Letter to the Editor: Garbage Collection is 'One of Our Only Benefits'

Hamilton resident Stephen Newbold writes that he pays more than $7,000 a year in taxes and one of the only benefits he receives is trash collection and does not favor the proposed pay-as-you-throw plan.

To the Editor:

An open letter to the Hamilton Board of Selectmen,

I am writing about the downgrade of services that you are proposing on our garbage collecting.

I find that often people use abbreviations (SMART) that mean the opposite of what is actually being done (NOT SMART).

It is like using averages to try and justify something without considering all the data. It sounds good but is not reality!

Our family always fills the one free bin but we have NEVER purchased an extra bag, so we have NEVER had to put out more than the one bin since you changed the rules on the last downgrade. So, some people must be purchasing a lot more bags than we do to get to your average number. (Where does your data come from?)

My question is: "What is the benefit to my family paying over $7,300 a year in real estate tax to the town of Hamilton?"

We have never had any benefit from the schools, since we have no children, and the money paid out for schools just increases our property taxes every year.

Our road is in need of repair again, and has been for some time.

We have to pay for our water.

One of our only benefits is the garbage collection, which you now want us to pay for separately.

This is not much of a percentage of our total tax but is a large percentage of the benefits we are paying for.

Why do the selectmen spend their time trying to make the town of Hamilton worse, rather than doing what the majority residents want?

You seem to be regularly taking away benefits from the residents, without any improvements on our behalf. Why is that? Financial gain? Town's image? Jumping on the "bandwagon" for going green? But yet our taxes remain the same, or increase?

It would be nice to see some positive reasons for our staying in this town!

Why not keep the one free barrel but give us the extra collections so we can fit everything into this one barrel and keep us all happy.

Please start listening to what the residents want and not doing what you WANT them to WANT!

It is not just about saving money but spending the money you raise wisely.

In the extreme case you could save money by getting rid of EVERYTHING the Town does for the residents but would that make sense for you to be re-elected? Of course not!

Regards,

Stephen Newbold

Hamilton

Jack September 05, 2011 at 09:17 PM
I totally agree - the current system works fine, I hear no residents asking for change and certainly no-one wants this additional tax. I use a second blue bag very occasionally, recycle properly and would be financially penalized by a change. The selectmen are acting without the support of the community and with statistics that do not reflect reality.
Lisa Gaquin September 05, 2011 at 10:36 PM
Does anyone think this is a good/fair idea? Recycle more and then pay to throw?
Rich September 06, 2011 at 02:27 AM
One of the reasons we recycle (supposedly) is to save money, however, our saving means someone else is getting less money, so that someone (trash collector or tax collector) has to come up with a plan to make that money back, via PAYT, SMART or tax. so the question is, for who is this a good/fair idea?
Jack September 06, 2011 at 12:00 PM
Initially I was wary of the one black trash bag idea and then having to purchase blue bags for extra trash. I'd been spoilt by the previous policy of no limits. However, it has made me recycle more, made us try to limit the family to one bag and our expenditure on blue bags is maybe $20 a year. A win / win by all accounts. Most of my street operates the same way, we don't begrudge the few blue bags we use and are happy to recycle to save the town money and help the environment. Now the selectmen, who can apparently leave nothing alone, have decided I must pay more to 'save money'. They are not listening to the townspeople, they are pushing ahead because they THINK they know best and frankly they are losing the support of sensible, rational and non-agenda driven people. Drop this dumb idea immediately and retain the status quo which is supported by everyone I know.
Bob Gray September 06, 2011 at 12:12 PM
Guess I'll just repeat myself here. Seems appropriate. This is what I think should happen: Keep the program just the way it is with 2 changes. Give every household a single stream barrel at NO CHARGE. Collect recycling every week instead of every other week. This will accomplish several things: It will encourage everyone to participate in the recycling program because of the convenience of having the single stream barrel and no sorting. It won’t cost the town any more to increase to every week collection because the contractors labor costs will be dramatically reduced using this new type barrel. The reduced tipping fees the increased recycling participation will create will pay for the cost to the town for the single stream barrel. I WANT TO KEEP MY ONE FREE BARREL! (We all know that it’s not free because it’s paid for through my property taxes) This SMART proposal only penalizes the hundreds of current recycling participants. IT'S NOT FAIR OR JUSTIFIED !
Bruce Blanchard September 06, 2011 at 02:29 PM
Just another example of the arrogance and the disconnect between the public and the "empowered minority"
Lance Magnum September 06, 2011 at 02:57 PM
I agree with the reasoning of the original article. Trash pickup is a basic service and the level of this service should be sufficient to meet the needs of all but exceptional cases. Using our dependence on this fundamental town function as a lever for collecting user fees is exactly the kind of governance that residents have grown weary of. I’ve bought expensive machines that let me recycle my clothes every week (you probably call them a ‘washer and dryer’), I live in a house that the previous owners recycled rather than discarding when they left town (which I proceeded to add some recycled ‘antique’ furniture to), many of the books I read are recycled, and I drive a recycled car. The government’s quixotic attempts to force recycling when the benefits are less that the costs wastes resources - most visible to me, but apparently not to any of the Selectmen doing the ‘analysis’, is the time I spend every week organizing trash.
Jerome Hunsaker September 06, 2011 at 03:19 PM
If we adopt " pay as you go" trash sevice, I trust the same logic should apply to the shool system; a resonable fee for use. If that be the case, I'm in favor of it. Jerome
Greg Horner September 06, 2011 at 03:48 PM
Here's how I'm looking at this: first, I start with a trust in the selectmen that not all have. I trust that they are looking at all the various changes in the budget and weighing how to provide the best services while keeping the tax increase minimal. Next, I see them eyeing money: ways to bring in some income. H-W stands to get some grants to lead the state into a new era of handling organic waste. If we succeed, it can turn into an ongoing revenue source for the town, something we need to offset increasing costs, such as healthcare and special ed. If we can get more recycling, reduce our trash costs, get grants, and create a new revenue stream for the town, I'm in favor. More income and lower expenses sounds smart to me. I think we need to look at the big-picture, not just our cost-per-bag.
Greg Horner September 06, 2011 at 03:50 PM
that said, i like the proposal floated elsewhere to give everyone a year's worth of half-size bags, so that those of us who are already recycling don't have to pay any extra.
Jack September 07, 2011 at 03:36 AM
That's all very well Greg - and I genuinely appreciate your thinking and your confidence in the Selectmen. My bottom line however is this... How much more do I need to pay out of my pocket to help them "save money"? Not one saving or reduction in costs has ever been reflected in a reduced valuation or tax rate, and now they want to add to the taxes with a user fee. I hate to by cynical about this, but I really hope they do not try to save money by further burdening highly taxed citizens (my rate is over $10,000 pa) with additional user fees in the middle of a recession of all things. If it's really a "revenue source" "offsetting costs" and we are going to get "grants", etc. etc. then it really shouldn't be costing us MORE out of pocket, should it?
Michael D September 09, 2011 at 12:58 AM
A Pay-As-You-Throw program basically allows an individual to not have to subsidize other people's behavior. Some people choose to recycle, others don't. By making everyone pay for their trash you will make a financial incentive for reducing trash. This was done with the initial "one bag free" change and the town realized substantial recycling increases and trash cost reductions. This program will allow recyclers to not foot the bill for those who don't wish to recycle. You already pay for the trash, but it's hidden and non-negotiable in your property tax. This program ensures you don't need to pay more to help out those who don't want to be bothered with recycling. It's not a novel idea -- it's already popular in many Massachusetts towns and in other states.
john September 09, 2011 at 02:14 AM
Michael D - you are correct. I agree, and there are people who choose not to send their kids to public schools or have no kids at all. There are people who use the fire/police servives more than others. There are people who use dpw more than others. I could go on and on. So to quote you, I don't want to have to foot the bill for those people, and others in the town should pay their fair share. Fact is many people do recycle and there are some things you can't recycle so you would wind up with at least one bag a week anyway. Why should we have to pay for this? Your argument is complete BS.
Jack September 09, 2011 at 02:44 AM
Michael - so we will see the REDUCTION then in our property taxes I assume? You and I know that will not happen - the property taxes will rise as ever. We'll be stuck with a user fee that will cost me more in addition to my taxes than the $20 or so I spend on blue bags a year. This is muddled thinking and as John says is totally out of step with the principle behind every other service supplied by the town. Yes, total BS
_________________________ September 09, 2011 at 11:12 AM
Excellent point. There is a mechanism in Prop 2.5 called an underride, where the town can actually reduce the tax rate. It doesn't happen very often, but underrides do pass most of the time. Hamilton could have put this recycling question on the ballot with an underride, vote so that taxes would automatically go down by the projected amount of the savings from the program, but they haven't. This leads people to think that taxes will not go down either now or in the future.
Michael D January 04, 2012 at 09:39 PM
Laws dictate that we have a police and justice system. Likewise, there are laws stating that we have a public school system. Comparing those things to something like trash removal does not follow. There are no laws stating that trash removal needs to be paid for by town taxes, nor that trash removal is a required service of a town.
Michael D January 04, 2012 at 09:40 PM
The allocated budget for the trash in the overall town budget should go down. That doesn't necessarily relate to reduced taxes because everything else goes up. What will happen is that the overall increase will be less. If the budget does not change or go down, then there should be a public outcry for instituting a new program that doesn't reduce costs.
john January 05, 2012 at 12:52 AM
Michael D, are you on dial up? This topic is four months old and pay-as-you throw has been thrown out the window.

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