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Pay As You Throw Info Picked Up

Westborough's Ad Hoc Pay As You Throw Committee hears Grafton, Northborough's experiences.

Switching household trash and recycling collection to a pay as you throw system has reduced both Grafton and Northborough's expenses for this service, officials from the towns told Westborough officials Monday night.

Westborough's Ad Hoc Pay As You Throw Committee met for the first time since selectmen organized it Oct. 23. Town Manager Jim Malloy suggested the committee. Selectmen ultimately will hold a public hearing on the committee's recommendations. Malloy has said pay as you throw could be part of Westborough's budget discussions for the fiscal year that starts July 1, 2013.

Monday night at Westborough Town Hall, Grafton Assistant Town Administrator Kevin Mizikar said Grafton spent about $1 million on trash and recycling collection in 2008. Under pay as you throw, Grafton pays $376,193. The town has $797,686 in expenses, with revenues of $421,493.

Northborough Town Engineer Frederic Litchfield Jr. said his town has reduced its amount of trash from about 5,000 tons 10 years ago to 2,200 tons now.

Westborough does not offer curbside trash and recycling.

Rather, residents pay $120 for a sticker (and $60 for a second sticker) for access to a transfer station available through Westborough's contract with E.L. Harvey and Sons, according to the Westborough Board of Health website. Seniors pay half price for the stickers.

"This has been really helpful to hear the first-hand experiences of what you do to get started," Selectmen Chairman Leigh Emery said.

Mizikar said Grafton residents pay 75 cents per 15-gallon bag and $1.50 per 30-gallon bag.

Town officials used such means as local cable access programs to educate residents early on, Mizikar said.

"We had a few naysayers to start with, people saying they were going to bring their trash to town hall," he said.

Pay as you throw offers "clear benefits to the town and to the residents," Mizikar said.

Mizikar added that "the ease of recycling is huge."

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Rich November 27, 2012 at 01:25 PM
An analysis of this has to compare the total cost to the Town's government agencies and residents combined under the present system to that cost under the proposed new one. We should also be told what the financial effect would be on Harvey's business. It is easy to believe that allowing Harvey to charge every resident for each bag of trash would be a reason for Harvey to decrease the amount it charges the Town government for all of us to use its facilities with a Dump sticker. But reducing the amount the Town government pays to Harvey so that all Town residents can enjoy economical access to the Dump does not necessarily mean that the Town residents are, either as a group or individually, going to pay less for trash and garbage disposal. If you fill up 2 trash barrels each week with 39 gallon Hefty bags of trash and garbage and take those barrels to the Dump, your cost now is 1/52nd of the annual Dump Sticker price (i.e., $2.31) plus the cost of 6 39 gal. Hefty bags (approx. $1.65) or a total of $3.96. If you had to pay Harvey's $1.50 for each 30 gal . trash bag and still buy the Dump Sticker, the cost would be 8 bags ($12.00) plus the weekly Dump Sticker cost (i.e., $2.31) or $14.31. This would be a 360% increase in your trash and garbage disposal costs. I would like to know whether Harvey has brought this plan forward and how much Harveys is willing to reduce its charges to Town government in order to so greatly increase its charges to individual residents.
Don Burn November 27, 2012 at 01:37 PM
While Pay as You Throw is great is some ways it has downsides that were not discussed. I know of small businesses in Northborough that had to get locks for their dumpsters because people kept putting in household trash. Even with the locks, it is not uncommon to find household trash piled on top of the dumpster and the businesses are stuck with extra cost! The other problem is that you go to various open space in Northborough. At the parks with trash barrels they are full many times at 9AM with house hold trash, and trash starts piling up around the parks or blowing onto the ballfields. Taking walks into the woods in Northborough I commonly find large trash bags dumped on public and private property. This may save the town money but it will stick it to small businesses and the environment.
Jessica November 27, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Of course recycling is low, you have to pay Harvey an extra $9 a month to have it picked up. If you don't recycle, you don't pay. Westborough has set up a system that encourages people NOT to recycle. If it saves Wbro so much, cut the fee. Also, this leaves a number of unanswered questions. Will Wbro still have dump access? What is the yard waste policy? Will recycling be free? Does it need to be bagged (it doesn't today). How do big items get removed? Also, do you still get a heavy duty trash bin to put on the curb? Seeing that Wbro has a rat problem, it's probably best heavy duty bins be provided and not flimsy bags. I know a number of Northborough residents. All of them hire Harvey's for their trash service. They were double bagging their trash because these 75 cent trash bags were so flimsy and didn't fit in a standard kitchen trash can. There is a lot of dissatisfaction with the service so we need to take a close look at the issues before we adopt the policy.
Townie November 27, 2012 at 02:29 PM
I don't like change. Leave it alone.
Don Burn November 27, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Jessica, The fees you are talking about are set by Harvey's not the town. The town only sets the fee right now for a dump sticker to dispose of trash at the dump. Even then you can recycle at the dump without a fee. What you are paying for is for the trash and recyclables to be picked up at your residence. The proposal is to make it so everyone pays for trash pickup.
Westborough resident November 27, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Our property taxes are one of the highest of the surrounding towns, We do not have trash pickup, the dump sticker price jumped from $80 to $120. And we are now being asked to pay even more to save the "town" money. Westborough residents need to pay attention to this one.
GG November 27, 2012 at 05:55 PM
Agree with "Westborough resident," this seems like yet another cost passed on to the taxpayer. How do surrounding towns maintain a greater level of services with less revenue? Perhaps this is the topic that should be reviewed, not trash pickup.
Jon McGrath November 27, 2012 at 05:58 PM
So, if we're checking with other towns on things like trash fees and school activity fees to see if we're in line, why don't we check with them on property tax rates, as well? The dump is one of the few things in town where, despite the recent increase, I feel you get a good value for the dollar. So I'm not at all surprised that the town is looking at a way to take that away.
Derek Speed November 27, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Is there a good description of what is being proposed or how it works in other towns like Grafton? If so, could someone please supply a pointer to it? As a family that already recycles heavily, this seems like it will increase our trash cost significantly and I am not at all clear on how it benefits me as a resident. Thanks!
Michael Gelbwasser (Editor) November 27, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Hi Derek, My understanding is that nothing has been proposed so far. The committee that met last night is gathering information to prepare a recommendation to selectmen, who will hold a public hearing on it. This topic certainly is something I'm watching.
TBH November 28, 2012 at 04:24 PM
What does the town get from having a contract with Harvey's? They must be getting a portion of the profit from the sale of the dump stickers. The article is unclear as to what the Grafton residents pay vs. the town and "town expenses." Are there other contractors that would be considered aside from Harvey's? Casella's "zero sort" system seems to be the future of recycling. I have to agree with Jessica...this town absolutely discourages recycling. Having access to the dump is nice, but not a realistic way to encourage it. Not everyone has the time or desire to make the weekly trip there. By having to pay extra for curbside recycling, Westborough is making it far too easy not to.
Sam December 13, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Interestingly enough, I just read "SuperFreakonomics" and they talked about well-meaning policies such as "pay as you throw" that backfire and cause more problems instead of solutions. Someone should probably look into those studies sited in the book before they make a decision based on just two neighboring towns with much lower property taxes.

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