Council to consider repeal of trash fees
Rockland — Those who signed a petition seeking to repeal the new pay-per-bag trash fees for the city may get what they want at the Aug. 11 City Council meeting.
At the meeting the council will consider an ordinance amendment that would repeal the pay-per-bag plan and give in to the wishes of the petitioners, according to Mayor Larry Pritchett.
The following is his explanation, which he sent in an email to members of the local press:
"As you are all aware, a group of Rockland residents have submitted to the clerk for verification approximately 700 signatures on petitions seeking to repeal two provisions of the recent amendments to the City's Solid Waste Ordinance.
"The primary practical impact of the petitioners request would be to void the new requirement that as of May 2015 all residents bringing household trash directly to the City's Solid Waste Facility 'pay per bag' of household trash disposed of there (in effect reinstating the current single price sticker option for residents).
"...In short this means that Council has the option of either enacting the ordinance amendment sought by the petitioners (1st reading at Council's 8/11 meeting & 2nd reading at Council's 9/8 meeting) or sending the issue forward as a referendum question to voters (at Council's 9/8 meeting). Both are valid options under the city's code.
"Wednesday morning, after conferring with the (city) clerk, the attorney and the acting city manager, I asked that an ordinance amendment which makes the same changes requested by the petitioners be added for Council's consideration at the 8/11 meeting.
"I would note that 700 residents appear to have expressed opposition to or at least reservations about the solid waste ordinance changes recently enacted by council. On many local municipal ballot questions in Rockland, 700 votes would be a clear majority.
"I am willing to take 700 signatures on petitions seeking to overturn a new ordinance as a strong enough expression of voter reservations to simply repeal the ordinance provisions in question. Council has discussed a number of changes at solid waste (like single stream recycling) and the petitioners raised additional questions (like curbside pickup).
"And, from the comments made, folks on all sides of this questions seem to share some common goals (reduce the amount of trash the city has to pay to have trucked off and either burned or landfilled, lower the overall costs of the solid waste operations to the community, distribute those costs fairly, etc.).
"I think council's (and the community's) time would be best spent moving forward in a direction at Solid Waste that does not mandate an approach that so many residents continue to find objectionable.
"I debated in my own mind up until the evening of council's July 14th meeting whether to support the "pay per bag" approach given past (and current) questions from residents. I intend to support the ordinance amendment on council's 8/11 agenda repealing the provisions the petitioners are seeking to have overturned."
Mayor Larry R. Pritchett
207 594-4401 ext. 122
Daniel Dunkle is editor of The Courier-Gazette and news director for Courier Publications. He lives in Rockland with his wife, Christine, who also works for Courier Publications, and two children.
Dunkle has previously served as editor of The Republican Journal in Belfast. He has worked as a reporter and photographer in the Midcoast since 1998.