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Pay Per Bag 'Supplement' Now Part of Hamilton Trash Plan

Hamilton residents will now be able to pay for trash pickup on the "off" week under the new trash pickup plan expected to be rolled out in Hamilton in March.

Changes have been to the new trash collection plan in Hamilton by “supplementing” the original proposal by allowing residents to pay for trash collection on weeks when the town doesn’t do it for “free.”

The new trash collection program, for short it has been called SMART – Saving Money and Reducing Trash – was approved in October. Selectmen voted to move to unlimited weekly recycling and organics collection and biweekly collection of up to one barrel of trash per residence. Extra bags would cost money.

The program, which is expected to go into place in March, is designed to increase the recycling and organic compost rate – and thereby decrease the amount of trash – to reduce town costs. The original plan also counted on reduced collection costs by reducing the number of collection routes. The town will also purchase and distribute new barrels for automated collection, which will reduce costs too.

But , with some residents expressing concerns ranging from the smell in the summer to questions about how to handle diapers.

That’s when the . Board Chairman Jennifer Scuteri said she heard from residents that “it is really too hard for them to go two weeks with trash.”

The vote last week to support the supplement mirrored the initial 3-2 vote to adopt the plan.

“I think it works all around,” Scuteri said about the supplement, adding she feel it still “honors” people who supported the initially approved plan.

“Only the resident who needs an extra bag every other week would have an additional cost,” Scuteri said, after earlier saying: “The people who like our program can do our program with no additional cost.”

Selectmen Jeff Hubbard and Jeff Stinson both opposed the supplement, just as they opposed the original plan. Both said that they favor weekly collection for trash, recyclables and organics.

Stinson said the so-called “weekly-weekly-weekly” plan saves the town some money and accomplishes the goal to increase recycling.

The fee for the blue bag pickup on “off” weeks has not been set, but Selectman Marc Johnson said that about 480 bags would need to be collected each week to cover the collection costs of the "off" week. Right now, about 9 percent of homes put out an extra bag weekly but Johnson said that could go up with a switch from one free barrel per week to one free barrel every other week.

Blue bags will also be collected for a fee on the same week as trash collection.

“We’re not trying to make money off the blue bags,” Scuteri said. Instead, the supplement was designed to address concerns about the biweekly pickup and cover the cost to make the collection.

The budget numbers for the new program do not include additional revenue from the "off" week bag sales.

On Monday, as the Selectmen took the vote at , in the audience were – Bill Dery, Mike Massimi and Bruce Wadleigh.

With a new plan now on the books, the petition would need to be reworded and would have to start again. The petition leaders said they are interested in putting the plan before voters at the Annual Town meeting in May. If it were to go to a Special Town Meeting before that, signatures from at least 100 registered voters are needed.

“You should just put this on the ballot and let the people decide,” Dery said.

Before last week’s vote, Scuteri said the move to supplement the program was .

“We do not make decisions in response to a citizen petition,” she said.

Rich December 11, 2011 at 12:09 PM
Ok fine, I'm sorry I don't pay enough taxes for the town to budget affordable regular weekly trash pickup - like they did before, it's my fault. Maybe the selectmen can vote to turn off the street lights after midnight to conserve energy, or pay as we plow, or how about parking meters downtown in the shopping center, railroad ave....think of all those meter fines.....then maybe back to a weekly pickup...oh I forgot, "We don't make decisions in response to citizen petition".......I'm just trying to help...
Stephen Newbold December 11, 2011 at 01:35 PM
Rich, I remember that the Selectmen already did the turning off street lights project when they asked Walter Cullen, then our police chief, to find any street lights that could permanently be turned off if it did not result in a public safety hazard.
Eileen DeAngelis December 11, 2011 at 02:36 PM
However this is sliced...the town is PENALIZING people who dare to need the pickup of diapers,depends or "feminine hygeine" products on a weekly basis.Great idea,Jen...decompostable diapers....and yet another cost to parents! You can't think those things will be cheaper to buy! Why do they need to pay for an extra bag to remove that which is already paid for in our taxes? The trucks will still have to come out weekly to pick up the EXTRA-CHARGE blue bags...so tell us again...this will save....how???
Eileen DeAngelis December 11, 2011 at 04:25 PM
oops...is that compostable? or decompostable? Either way...it's got to cost more. ...and I'm wondering whether the Board of Health has spoken on this issue?
Ron Powell December 11, 2011 at 04:42 PM
I would still allow Town Meeting to vote on the plan. There is quite a lot of changes happening all at once here, and a number of residents will be paying more out-of-pocket for trash collection than they do now. Why antagonize these residents? Especially since the Town would still be spending less money than it does now -- even if it fully paid for the weekly collection under the SMART plan. The supplement provides for weekly trash collection in addition to weekly recyclables and curbside organic collection. But it shifts the costs of weekly trash collection to residents who produce more trash, rather than spreading the cost evenly among all residents. Overall, Town residents will now be spending about $80,000 more per year out-of-pocket for trash collection. It's a significant amount that should be run by Town Meeting. Personally, I would have opted to do this in two stages: I would have implemented the Wenham version of the SMART plan, which includes weekly trash collection at no additional out-of-pocket costs to residents, and then implemented the pay-as-you-throw component that the supplement offers later.
Jack December 11, 2011 at 07:01 PM
Thanks for nothing - more cost, more taxes. I was planning to downsize within the town over the next two years, when I move I will be moving to a different town - this is cynical, disrespectful and fiscally nonsensical. I am actually happy to have made this decision.
Ron Powell December 11, 2011 at 08:32 PM
I have heard the chestnut about Cullen looking for street lights to turn off, but only finding that he was working with a few dim bulbs in the public safety building.
Juls December 11, 2011 at 11:29 PM
The plan is still discriminatory toward large families. Not SMART.
Dick Dunn December 11, 2011 at 11:38 PM
“We do not make decisions in response to a citizen petition,” she said. That kinda says it all.
Eileen DeAngelis December 11, 2011 at 11:44 PM
Dick...translation:We know better than you citizens...only WE can make such decisions as this.,,don't want/need your input.If you have a large family,that's YOUR problem.We'll let you decide about putting $2000 into the general fund...and we'll decide for you things that you're not smart,(no pun intended),enough to decide.They don't care!!!
Michelle Bailey December 12, 2011 at 02:51 AM
Indeed a good question about the Board of Health. Were they ever consulted? Did they ever attend a BOS meeting to make a recommendation? Where have they been?

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