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City trash: Pay-As-You-Throw idea lives on

February 04. 2014 10:43PM

MANCHESTER — The Board of Mayor and Aldermen isn’t ready to kick a pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) system of trash collection to the curb — just yet.

After considerable debate at its meeting Tuesday, the board voted against a motion to reject any consideration of PAYT, whereby residents would be required to purchase special bags to dispose of their garbage.

The city’s public works director has estimated that PAYT, which has also been referred to as bag-and-tag, could yield up to $3.5 million in revenue and savings, both through the sale of the $1 to $2 bags and by driving up the recycling rate.

The motion to remove the proposal from among the several departmental revenue schemes under review by the aldermen was made by Alderman-At-Large Joe Kelly Levasseur.

“I haven’t seen a reaction at this level to anything else before,” Levasseur said of the negative reactions he has received from constituents. “I would like to do the tough work today and not wait. I think this sends a bad message to people who want to move here and to the people who live here.”

Several aldermen indicated that they, too, were skeptical of the plan, and that residents had expressed their disapproval to them as well. But they argued that there was still value in having the idea vetted through the committee process.

The Committee on Administration will hold special hearings on PAYT and other revenue proposals later this month.

“I attended the meeting and spent considerable time on this,” said Ward 7 Alderman William Shea, referring to a recent closed-door meeting with city officials and representatives from WasteZero, a company that administers PAYT programs around the country. “As a group, until we examine all the implications of proposals, we are precluding what we can learn.”

Ward 12 Alderman Keith Hirschmann backed the motion to kill PAYT, arguing the city has not done nearly enough to increase the recycling rate.

“Everyone is just seeing the dollar signs, and they’re not seeing whole picture ... . Only 19,000 out of 37,000 homes have blue toters,” he said, referring to the city’s recycling containers.

Ward 1 Alderman Joyce Craig, who chairs the administration committee, said the city’s recycling program would be part of the discussion.

“This is something I planned to take up in the solid waste committee meeting. I would hope this board would hold off until we have that discussion,” she said.

In the end, only three — Levasseur, Hirschmann and Barbara Shaw, Ward 9 — of the 14 aldermen voted to support to the motion to kill PAYT.

Later in the evening, Hirschmann made a motion for the administration committee to specifically consider the feasibility of adding more recycling toters, which the board approved.

General News Manchester