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Manchester considers new trash policies

New Hampshire Union Leader

June 16. 2014 10:54PM

MANCHESTER — The city is considering placing limits on the amount of bulky items residents can leave at its drop-off facility and ending trash pickup at multi-unit and commercial buildings.

The proposals, discussed Monday at a meeting of the aldermen’s Special Committee on Solid Waste Activities, were among a slate of ideas put forward by public works officials earlier this year to generate revenue and savings.

Mark Gomez, the city’s Environmental Programs Manager, told the committee that restoring the fee for dropping off bulky items —such as appliances, furniture and scrap metal — would generate revenue, while discouraging landlords and contractors, including those from outside the city, from abusing the system.

“It’s difficult for our employees to distinguish between residents and commercial users who might be masquerading as residents,” he said.

Businesses are supposed to pay a 7-cent-per-pound fee to dispose bulky items.

Gomez told the committee that the drop-off facility currently operates at a $200,000 loss to the city, a deficit that can be traced in large part to ending the universal bulky fee.

But Ward 1 Alderman Joyce Craig, the chairman of the committee, said reimplementing the fee would create other problems. “We did this because it kept people from leaving large items in the alley and the street,” she said.

The committee instead opted to limit free drop-offs to two trips and 10 bulky items a year, which, the aldermen reasoned, would serve to crack down on businesses abusing the system.

Gomez also recommended ending municipal trash pickup for commercial and multi-unit residential buildings. He noted that Manchester was unique in offering free trash pickup for such buildings; neither Nashua or Lowell, Mass., do so.

The committee wanted to know how many buildings would be affected by such a change and where they were located, so it tabled the matter while directing the public works department to report back with the information.

Other changes discussed by the committee included the installation of 12 outdoor public recycling receptacles, which were funded by a grant from a national nonprofit, over the next few weeks.

The committee also briefly discussed pay-as-you-throw, the per-bag charge officials said could have saved the city $3.5 million a year. The aldermen did not advance the idea after an overwhelmingly negative reaction from residents.

Still, the aldermen have yet to officially discard the proposal.

“We still think pay-as-you-throw would be a good thing for Manchester and hope to be able to continue to discuss it in the future,” Gomez said.

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