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.