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Committee: Trash Program Would Make Towns 'First in the Commonwealth'

The SMART (Save Money As you Reduce Trash) committee in Hamilton and Wenham have put together a summary of the new, proposed pay-as-you-throw trash fee program that is under consideration.

The following statement is from the SMART (Save Money As you Reduce Trash) committee explaining the proposed pay-as-you-throw proposal in the two towns.

In an effort to reduce costs, increase recycling and expand the , Hamilton and Wenham have proposed transitioning to a SMART (Save Money As you Reduce Trash) waste removal program.

In the Draft 2010-2020 Solid Waste Master Plan, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has set a goal of “reducing annual solid waste disposal by 30 percent by 2020…through varying combinations of source reduction, recycling, and composting…” and by 2050 the goal is to reduce residential and commercial waste by 80 percent.

Aligning the towns with these goals has significant cost savings potential beyond the obvious environmental benefits of burning less trash.

What does the new SMART program include?

  • Recycling pick up increases to weekly and will change to single stream, meaning no more separating your recyclables. The paper, bottles, cans, plastic, etc. will be separated at the recycling facility.
  • Organic recycling pick up will be expanded to townwide at no charge. The towns have applied for a grant to pay for both the inside and outside bins as well.
  • Solid Waste pick up will continue weekly, but will move to .

How does this expanded program save money?

  • Burning less and recycling more saves $28 -$68 per ton

There are two major costs associated with waste removal; hauling charges and tipping fees.

The hauling charges are those associated with picking up and transporting the material.

The towns have been able to negotiate a very favorable contact that enables the additional recycling and organic pickup. The waste hauler, Hiltz, has offered to purchase split trucks that can handle both types of recycling in order to support this program, reducing the total number of trips through town.

The tipping fees are those charged to dispose of the waste. Current charges for trash that gets burned are $68 dollars per ton. Organic waste costs about $40 per ton. There is no charge for recyclables. In 2010, Hamilton and Wenham sent 2,912 tons to be burned (68.5 percent) and 1342 tons to free recycling (31.5 percent). The economic logic is compelling.

What will the PAYT program cost the average resident?

  • About $40 per year depending on your participation in recycling programs

The average Hamilton-Wenham household uses 11 33-gallon (large) overflow bags per year at a cost of $19.25/year. Utilizing the enhanced single stream and organic recycling options available it is estimated the average household to reduce its waste by 30%.

The average household would need about 30 full size or 60 half-size bags per year (newly available with this program), at a cost of about $60 per year. This translates to an additional $40 per year for each household - a small price for a lot of service.

All bag revenue will directly offset the town’s solid waste budget and reduce the amount of property tax revenue required.

The current Hamilton–Wenham Waste Reduction Program, which includes curbside organic recycling, has been an informative and beneficial first step toward the development of a sustainable town-wide program; a program that has the potential to serve as a model throughout the state for municipal curbside organic recycling. 

But more importantly, our efforts to-date put us at the forefront to capitalize on the objectives set forth by MDEP to dramatically reduce annual solid waste disposal costs and positively affect our environment. By instituting this “first in the Commonwealth” proposal, Hamilton and Wenham will continue to prove that municipalities can do well by doing “good.”

Mike Hannaway September 07, 2011 at 06:29 PM
Do you really think this proposal is going to reduce our property taxes? You can't be serious? I really can't stop laughing after reading your comment. Thank you! I really needed a good laugh today. That was refreshing. Now let's get back to the topic at hand, the town trying to double bill us for trash pickup.
Greg Horner September 07, 2011 at 06:34 PM
I wrote, "When the town saves money, that keeps our taxes from increasing further, and we all save." - what I meant is not that they won't go up, just that they would go up less than they otherwise would, because the town is spending less. I can see how it could be read either way.
Mike Hannaway September 07, 2011 at 06:42 PM
Greg's comment is a direct contradiction. “keeps our taxes from increasing further, but what I meant was not that they won't go up,” How can they go up but not increase further?
Jim September 07, 2011 at 06:46 PM
I think Greg is Selectmen material. He has the ability to speak from both sides of his mouth at once.
Pam Hetherington September 07, 2011 at 06:51 PM
I just telephoned my State Representative and expressed my concern regarding this proposal. They documented my complaint and said they would look into it. I let them know that I don't want to pay again for trash removal and that this proposal was not well thought out.
Bill Bowler September 07, 2011 at 08:39 PM
The claim that 134 communities have adoped PAYT is very misleading. http://www.mass.gov/dep/recycle/reduce/images/paytmap.pdf is a map from the DEP website about PAYT. First it shows that over half the communities claimed as PAYT towns are in the western part of the state - towns with small populations & tax bases & large square mileage which never provided trash pickup as a municipal service. More glaringly it shows Hamilton, Wenham and Ipswich as PAYT towns which we know they are not. Query how many other communities (and the map shows very few in the greater Boston area anyway) are listed as PAYT towns which are not. While I do not share the dark visions of some of the other posters and would like to support a program which encourages recycling, the data that has been presented to date is flawed at best.
_________________________ September 07, 2011 at 09:09 PM
It's funny (and sad) to see that Hamilton is currently listed as a PAYT success story on the Mass.Gov DEP web site with a recycling rate increase of 17% to 28% with the current program http://www.mass.gov/dep/recycle/reduce/paytfact.htm. Now per the Hamilton Town Manager, the exact same PAYT program has become a complete and total failure with a current recycling rate of 28% as that is down from a peak 2010 recycling rate of 31%. How can both opposite points of view (State and Town) be true at the same time? That's an easy question. The current PAYT program leaves "money on the table" i.e. in the pockets of the taxpayer. By charging for every single trash bag, local officials intend to bleed the taxpayer dry - for their own good, of course. Next, they will institute Pay as You Plow. There will be a Snow Enterprise Fund which will bill every taxpayer $5 per inch of snow that falls over the average snowfall for the year (40 inches). If it snows 80 inches like last winter, you'll pay $200 more ($5 X 40) into the fund. But don't worry, it's not a tax increase. You are just paying for the increase costs of plowing, so it won't increase your tax bill. This way they will be able to plow the streets before there are accidents, unlike last year when they waited until there were serious accidents before plowing.
Keating September 07, 2011 at 10:18 PM
Professor Daniel K. Benjamin is a senior fellow at the Property and Environment Research Center. ""It is a waste to recycle when the costs of doing so exceed the benefits." Benjamin said, "In most cities across the nation, recycling of household trash is, in fact, wasteful, even when we take into account the meager environmental benefits of such recycling."According to Benjamin, commercial recycling is worth our while, but curbside recycling expends an "undue amount capital and labor per pound of material" to reuse items of extremely low value. "The only things that intentionally end up in municipal solid waste," writes Benjamin, "are both low in value and costly to reuse or recycle. Yet these are the items that municipal recycling programs are targeting....Most local governments subsidize recycling programs out of overcharges on trash pickup or other taxes. This misleads people into thinking that curbside and other municipal recycling programs conserve resources—when in fact they do not," says Benjamin. Recycling costs up to 50% more per ton than landfill disposal. State and local municipalities should put an end to such cross-subsidies, price trash-pickup and recycling at a price that reflects their full costs, and let people voluntarily choose which system to use." Let me add, in a town with a tight budget, we should do meaningful environmental changes, not pointless and expensive recycling of household waste.
Keating September 07, 2011 at 10:19 PM
(more) Far more benefit would come from a town wide ban of toxic lawn chemicals that are known and powerful carcinogens. Let's not worry about the empty environmental symbolism and waste of curbside trash pickup.
Jim September 07, 2011 at 11:03 PM
I don’t have any children. If 2/3 of the budget goes for running the schools, then you owe me and everyone else who doesn’t use the school system a refund. You’re so concerned that one family might have an extra bag of garbage but nothing is said about the people who don’t use the school system. Why not tax per child like your trying to tax per bag of trash? You won’t because you want it both ways. You want everyone, to pay for everything and then some. For 100 years our tax dollars paid for schools, trash collection and everything else. Suddenly, you can’t make it work. I don’t think the problem is the cost of trash collection. I think the problem is the people managing the money. They don’t know what they are doing. We pay you more and more taxes every year and it’s still not enough. Molly Martins and John Clemenzi should be ashamed of themselves. The Town’s Chairperson and Vice Chair are running this town into the ground.
Eileen DeAngelis September 07, 2011 at 11:22 PM
We already pay for trash removal thru our taxes.How is it not a tax,to give us a single 1/2 size bag,"free"? I've already paid for a full bag.Bob Gray has a great idea...keep the one barrel we now use...and maybe allow a sticker,as someone suggested,on our bags,instead of a special bag for extras? I think that once again we are being snookered but the BOS.They,as all gov't folks...are SO much smarter than we are! We just pay the taxes and let them do what they will? Not the way I learned about democracy.The BOS is supposed to represent us..not tell us,thru their actions...that they know best!...shut up and pay! Call it what you wil...THIS IS A TAX! Unless the town returns each household's tax share for trash removal,we shouldn't have to pay for 2-1/2 size bags each week.Gretal...it's a hoax...just because YOU like to be green...doesn't mean you can tell all of us what to do! The BOS better let us vote on this...or watch out next election!
Jim September 07, 2011 at 11:42 PM
Well put Eileen. You summed it up perfectly.
William McMaster September 08, 2011 at 02:52 PM
There is a lot of great information posted above. My only question now is why is this proposition still being considered? It’s clear that this program has failed miserably in other towns and it’s clear that recycling household trash is not profitable but is actually costly. It’s evident that the residents have already paid for the collection of (1) large trash can per week, but the town wants to charge them again for the same trash can. All of our taxes were raises once again last year to cover the budget increases and people going over one can per week are already paying for the town trash bags. No one wants this program, it makes no sense and all and it has a proven track record as being a program that will fail if implemented. So why is this still being proposed? Is it something as simple as pure stubbornness or the town refusing to admit they made a mistake? I don’t understand why this is still on the table. Scrap it and move on!
Jim September 08, 2011 at 03:02 PM
You would think the Selectmen would be interested in our opinions but they don't care what we think. We go to the town meetings, e-mail the Selectmen and leave great comments on the Patch. Still the Selectmen insist on cramming this down our throats. In their eyes, we don't exist. The only thing we can do is start calling our State Representatives and showing up for the Town Meetings and letting them know that they are not going to railroad us on this one and that we refuse to have this trash tax shoved down our throats.
Mike Hannaway September 08, 2011 at 05:03 PM
Does anyone know when the next Town Hall meeting will be?
Michelle Bailey September 08, 2011 at 06:36 PM
There is a working discussion with Hamilton BOS Member Marc Johnson, Friday, Sept. 9 at 9am at Hamilton Town Hall. Hamilton Fall Town Meeting is October 22 Wenham Specail Town Meeting is November 8
Mike Hannaway September 08, 2011 at 06:58 PM
Thank you for the information. Unfortunately I work and will not be able to attend the 9:00 AM meeting. The October 22nd meeting looks better as that is a Saturday. Do you know what time the 10/22 meeting will be? Will the SMART Proposal be on the agenda for all three meetings, 09/09, 10/22 and 11/08?
Michelle Bailey September 08, 2011 at 07:08 PM
The meetins on 10/22 and 11/8 are Town Meetings to vote on various warrant artilces. Hamilton will finalize their warrant on Monday, so I think it would be highly doubtful that it would be on the warrant...besides the Hamilton BOS has the authority to make the decision without Town Meeting approval. The Wenham Town Meeting warrant will not be know for several more weeks. The next Wenham BOS meeting should be Sept 20 at 7pm at Wenham Town Hall. Residents are always allowed to come to comment on any subject. That would be the best place to share your concerns about this program as it is usually televised and covered by the local media.
Sue Drappers September 08, 2011 at 07:20 PM
Thank you again. I know a lot of people who would like to attend these meetings but have scheduling conflicts. It would be very useful to us if you would let us know when the SMART proposal is on a warrant and when the discussion meeting is scheduled. In other words, if we were going to take off work or leave work early to attend one meeting to voice our concerns with the SMART program, what meeting would that be? Thanks again for your help.
Michelle Bailey September 23, 2011 at 06:10 PM
Sounds like the vote will be October 11 at 7pm. The Wenham Board of Selectmen indicated this week that they would like to vote on this matter with the Hamilton Board of Selectmen in a Joint Meeting on October 11. If you're calendar planning, hold that date open. Note: at this point BOTH towns have determined they do not need voter approval to put this plan in place.
Sue Drappers September 23, 2011 at 06:20 PM
That's about what we expected. They are going to shut the door and vote this into practice regardless of what the residents feel is the right move. This process is laughable. They can do what they want, who cares. I just think it hilarious that they pretend to listen to us and then shut the doors at Town Hall and force this down our throats like they always do. It’s pretty funny. What a bunch of misfits. Knock yourself out.
Ron Powell September 25, 2011 at 09:10 PM
Why not implement Bob Gray's recommendation to give every household a 65-gallon single-stream recycling barrel at no additional charge to residents? That would satisfy the needs for residents 90 percent of the time? I mean, who fills more than two 33-gallon trash bags worth of waste per week under ordinary circumstances? The barrels would be paid for out of the expected cost savings on tipping fees and hauling charges, and the Town would still save money on its existing waste removal contract. Implement PAYT for volume beyond the first 65-gallon barrel. It doesn't make sense or seem fair for all residents to be paying for the few who create excessive waste.
Mike Hannaway September 25, 2011 at 11:27 PM
We can save our breath. They've made it clear that they don't care what we think. Someone said it last month "this is a done deal" and I agree. They've only had the town meetings so they could say they listened to us voice our concerns. They are going to shove this down our throats again like they always do. Next pay for leaf collection, followed by a blizzard snow removal fee. Then every year the fees for these services will increase. Meanwhile our taxes will go up just like they always do. The Selectmen are a joke. I feel like I'm in Mayberry. A bunch of hillbilly's worrying about the stupid birch trees one day and taxing us to death the next. Give me a break. Get your check books ready, it's time to line their greasy pockets again.
john September 25, 2011 at 11:53 PM
How do we remove these people from office? Can anyone run?
Ron Powell September 26, 2011 at 03:44 AM
Well, look, your Selectmen can vote to do whatever they want, but it's clear that they are not winning the hearts and minds of residents here. A VERY similar PAYT trash proposal was defeated at Lynnfield Town Meeting just last year. Littleton, Weston, Malden, and Lexington have all done the same, and I imagine that the Board of Selectmen know that a citizens petition requesting an article be added to the Special Town Meeting warrant would effectively kill SMART in Hamilton. The fact of the matter is that trash removal services have been free since the dawn of time, or at least since anyone can remember, and this is going to come across as an override end-around. Residents will find a way to rebel, whether it be the Seattle Stomp or some other socially inefficient means of avoiding the fees. The Town will save on tipping fees simply by switching to single-stream recycling, and should do so. And it should implement PAYT in a SMART way that does not come across as heavy-handed to residents.
Michelle Bailey September 26, 2011 at 11:06 AM
There is still time to put a citizen's petition on the Fall Town Meetings...official forms available from your town clerk. You need 100 signatures for a special town meeting but only 10 signatures for the annual spring town meeting. Hamilton and Wenham do not have recall provisions. However, the next election is in May. Any registered voter in the town can run for office by completing nomination papers in early March. It requires you to gather 25 signatures from residents to put you name on the ballot. NOTE: The Fall town meetings have an article proposing a change in the spring town meeting date. That could make the time to get nomination papers earlier than March.
Michelle Bailey September 30, 2011 at 07:27 PM
The SMART (formerly known as PAYT) program is on the agendas at both Hamilton and Wenham BOS this week. Now, may be your last chance to be heard! Hamilton, Monday night, around 8pm at Hamilton Town Hall. Wenham, Tuesday night, around 7:20pm at Wenham Town Hall. Check-out the full agendas online on the town websites or here on Patch.
Michelle Bailey October 18, 2011 at 10:52 AM
Mark your calendar. Hamilton BOS intends a vote about the plan on Wed. night at 5pm at Town Hall. If you have questions or concerns about the program, you should plan to be there.
Jim October 19, 2011 at 12:52 PM
5:00 PM Vote!!! HOW CONVENIENT!! We will all be leaving our offices and will be stuck in traffic at 5:00 PM. They must really think we are ignorant. From the very beginning they've intended to push this through without any consideration to what we want. I thought I saw an e-mail a few weeks ago stating that this was going to go to town vote in November, whatever happened to that! They know if it went to town vote, it would never be approved. The Selectmen are an arrogant, self serving bunch. Get your check books ready and be prepared to start paying for garbage pickup twice. Also be ready for your property taxes to increase once again this year and for the cost of garbage collection to go up next year. Don't be surprised if the Selectmen tell us that they need to start charging for leaf collection followed by blizzard snow removal fees to cover the plow driver’s overtime. This entire process has been nothing but a joke. This has been politics at its best.
Michelle Bailey May 11, 2012 at 09:38 PM
Town Meeting Saturday, May 12 @ 9am at the High School...Article 2-3 Waste Enterprise Budget. This is your chance to let the Selectmen know how the new trash program is working out for you.

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