2015-04-03 / Front Page

New trash system to be reviewed

Information about the new system will be collected and forwarded to councilors
By Michael Kelley
Staff Writer

The Finance Committee decided last week to pursue the possibility of adopting a pay-as-you-throw approach to solid waste removal, but members said a lot more analysis into the system has to be done before it is adopted.

Under the new system, solid waste would still be collected curbside, but residents would have to purchase and put their solid waste into special trash bags with the town seal before it is collected and disposed.

Town Manager Tom Hall will gather information this month before the full council vets the idea later during budget deliberations.

Hall said if the council decides to adopt the system, he would recommend a possible start date of Sept. 1.

Hall said the delay would give Town Councilors “further discussion and education prior to rollout.”

At the March 11 Finance Committee meeting, John Campbell, chairman of Waste Zero, a leader in pay-as-you-throw solid waste reduction, told committee members making the change would help drive up the recycling rate, reduce the amount of solid waste and save the town money.

Over the last few years, the recycle rate in Scarborough has hovered around 32 percent. Campbell said pay-as-you-throw could result in 2,372 fewer tons of solid waste and 949 more tons of recycling annually, which would reduce the amount the town has to pay to ecomaine to dispose of waste by $167,230.

Finance Committee Chairman Shawn Babine said this is not the first time the pay-as-you-throw idea has been presented to the town.

Before he makes a decision whether it is appropriate for Scarborough this goaround, Babine said he would like to see a cost analysis for pay-as-you-throw as well as a “lessons learned” about the current system of solid waste and recycling collection.

“I think we need some very clear information for the residents to understand,” Babine said, adding the reason he supports moving the idea forward is because councilors have “a responsibility to look at all nonproperty tax revenue.”

Finance Committee member William Donovan said he has heard concerns from residents about changing its solid waste program.

“I’ve got feedback from people wondering if it is worth the fuss because it is a change in the way we do things,” Donovan said.

Jack Fay, a resident of Mulberry Lane, told board members he doesn’t think the pay-as-you-throw program is right for Scarborough.

He said despite what the board heard from Waste Zero, the pay-as-you-throw model is not going to change people’s behaviors.

“I am against this and I don’t think it is the right move for the town. We are doing fine with recycling. We aren’t at 100 percent, but nobody is,” Fay said.

Donovan said if making the switch can save money and deliver as good a service as presently offered, pay-as-you-throw is something he “would immediately consider.”

Whether Scarborough makes the change or not, Finance Committee member Peter Hayes said pay-as-you-throw, or userbased systems, are gaining popularity.

“As communities move forward, it will be a common way to allocate a lot of the expenses to people who are using the service more than others,” Hayes said.

How to proceed with solid waste collection and removal is just one of the difficult decisions facing councilors in the fiscal year 2016 budget, which was unveiled on Wednesday, April 1.

“As we head into budget season, this community will have some real tough choices and some tradeoffs,” Hayes said. “As a community we will need to decide how we spend our limited resources.”

This month the Finance Committee will be meeting with department heads to go over departmental budgets. On Wednesday, April 8 at 4 p.m., the committee will hear about the public safety and planning department budgets. On Tuesday, April 14, also at 4 p.m., the heads of the Scarborough Economic Development Corporation, School Department and Scarborough Public Library will appear before the committee. The focus will turn to community services, information systems and public works on Wednesday, April 22. A final recommendation from the Finance Committee will take place during a town hall-style meeting Wednesday, April 29 at 6:30 p.m. at Scarborough High School.

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