Ordinance likely to set $2 per bag fee

'Unexpected' action: City moves to do away with sticker for trash drop-off

By Larry Di Giovanni | May 29, 2014
Photo by: Larry Di Giovanni Trash drop-off sticker customer Robert McKay of Rockland drops off residential trash May 29 at the city transfer station located at 400 Limerock St. The city's proposed move to a per-bag system to halt subsidizing transfer fee costs is likely to happen due to those who take advantage of the system, he says.

Rockland — During the May 29 Rockland budget meeting, city councilors made it clear: They are no longer willing to stick with the flat-fee sticker system that results from residents dropping off trash at the city transfer station.

Instead, they will move ahead with a new city ordinance that would initiate a $2 per bag fee for trash drop-off.

The item is set for discussion at their June 2 agenda-setting meeting preceding the Monday, June 9 City Council meeting.

Currently, single-family residents pay $65 annually, or a bit over $1 per week, for a sticker they purchase each year around May. It allows them to drop off trash and recyclables at the transfer station, located at 400 Limerock St. There are currently 1,371 sticker customers.

City Solid Waste Director David St. Laurent said the cost of accepting, transporting, and disposing trash incinerated in Orrington by the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. actually works out to $143 per year for a single family residence. There is no limit on how many trash bags residents can drop off if they have stickers, he said.

"The City Council wants to move away from subsidizing trash and go to a price-per-unit system," St. Laurent said.

Still, St. Laurent said the council's move was "unexpected." He had brought a schedule of proposed fees that would increase sticker fees anywhere up to $155 per year, as well as increase commercial per-ton tipping fees. Currently set at $110 per ton, the new ordinance will propose increasing commercial fees to $115 per ton.

Sticker fees would have to increase to $143 annually and tipping fees to $132 per ton to break even on the transfer station and generate $165,443 more toward closure of the city's landfill, according to St. Laurent. The landfill, which accepts about 4,000 tons of commercial and demolition materials, is a significant revenue-generator for the Solid Waste Department. But it will reach full capacity by 2018 and may close. The city currently has a Landfill Closure Balance of more than $929,000.

Councilor Louise MacLellan-Ruf said she has heard "concerns from the public" that businesses are abusing the system by hauling their commercial trash to the transfer station along with their residential trash.

"The whole system is bogus," said Councilor Elizabeth Dickerson."We need to go to pay-per-bags." Councilor Frank Isganitis agreed, saying a preferred move to a per-bag system "is what I'm really hearing here."

Judy Robinson, a bookkeeper with Robinson's Waste Service, said commercial trash haulers like hers can handle a $5 per ton tipping fee increase, but also noted that commercial haulers — who serve 75 percent of the city's residents — "pay for every pound of trash we haul in. The ones the city is really subsidizing are those with stickers."

St. Laurent said Rockport, Camden and Hope residents pay $2 per bag, and those in Belfast pay $2.50 per bag to drop off their trash.

More than five years ago, a citizens' referendum in Rockland overturned the City Council's attempt at a "pay-as-you-go" trash drop-off system. City Attorney Kevin Beal said more than five years has now passed as required by law before the council can pursue it again.

Mayor Larry Pritchett said the new solid waste fees will be part of the city's overall fee schedule set for approval Monday, June 30 as part of the 2014-2015 city budget. But the second and final ordinance reading required for passage will likely occur during the Monday, July 14 City Council meeting.

St. Laurent said since most sticker customers have already paid their yearly sticker fees this month, one proposal under consideration is to give them a credit of about $22 in January.

Courier Publications reporter Larry Di Giovanni can be reached at 594-4401 or by email at ldigiovanni@villagesoup.com.

Rockland's residential trash customers can cut down on their trash drop-off fees by recycling using the transfer center's recycling bins, here shown May 29 at the transfer station located at 400 Limerock St. (Photo by: Larry Di Giovanni)
Rockland's landfill, which accepts construction materials and is a revenue-generator for the city, is set to reach full capacity and close in 2018. (Photo by: Larry Di Giovanni)
Comments (9)
Posted by: Caroline Woodman | Jun 05, 2014 16:45

Savings could come from less employees that are paid quite well the inmates seem to be working hard .. they don't get paid .. appreciate those that work there not saying that but one way of saving .. Also landfill may not get filled up if we weren't allowing other places to haul in here



Posted by: F William Black | May 31, 2014 09:23

I was dismayed to watch a small dump truck deposit a load of cardboard boxes and packing materials in the hopper this week - with a transfer station employee telling him when the truck was empty.  Almost all of the load could have been recycled. No wonder we have problems.



Posted by: russell g york | May 31, 2014 08:15

I am with you Dennis lets get this out to the voters so rockland and just maybe the voters will stick with the way we are doing if now maybe be time the city buys a couple trash trucks we pay enough taxes



Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | May 30, 2014 09:27

Unless you want to prove residency every time you go a sticker would probably be a good idea. There are many ways to get rid of trash at  the Rockland dump but only one way to make all users pay. Yesterday I saw a large suitcase in the hopper. It's stuff like this that runs on the tab up.



Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | May 30, 2014 05:19

Mr. Mazzeo is right. Those of us who recycle most everything will have no problem. Personally, will probably use one bag a year, since composting and recycling most everything. Keeping their costs down will keep our costs down. Makes sense.The council is never going to make everyone happy, yet someone has to make those decisions.



Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | May 29, 2014 18:10

I thought long ago that pay per bag was fair. A household with ten people generates much more trash than a house with two people. If one can haul five to ten bags a week for $65.00 a year, how much recycling do you think they do? From what I've seen most don't bother. I recycle everything I can and then I see somebody with a pick-up load and wonder why I do. If everyone pays for the trash they generate, why isn't this fair?



Posted by: Dennis Putansu | May 29, 2014 14:19

Judy Robinson eloquently states "The ones the City is really subsidizing are those with sickers." Oh REALY, they subsidize me. If the $2.00 a bag charge is passed, I suspect my trash hauling bill to double if not triple! Subsidize me. Have you seen or paid my property tax bill? Subsidize me! How about we stop subsidizing the commercial haulers and double or triple their per ton price. Then we shall see who is truely susidized. We do not live in Camden, Rockport, Hope or Belfast. We live in Rockland. I urge the citizens to get out and overturn this debacle once again.



Posted by: Susan P Reitman | May 29, 2014 13:44

Are you going to need a sticker so you can still recycle at the DUMP and how much is it going to cost to recycle?



Posted by: Kathryn Fogg | May 29, 2014 12:13

I tried pay-per-bag and then went for flat fee for the convenience of a larger bag.  I soon realized that the first method would probably have been cheaper for me as I deposit so little after careful recycling.  What I do wish that a larger size orange bag would be offered that would fit over the rims of standard size trash cans.

 



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Larry Di Giovanni
207 594-4401 ext. 117
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Larry Di Giovanni, a veteran journalist with more than 20 years of experience, is returning to his daily reporting roots in order to cover the city of Rockland for The Courier-Gazette. Originally from Athens, Ohio, his family includes one son, Tony.

Di Giovanni has covered news beats ranging from the city of South Lake Tahoe, Calif., to the largest tribal government in the United States — the Navajo Nation. He has also worked as a writer in the public education and higher education fields. He's an animal enthusiast and loves dogs.

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