Voters to decide trash feesCouncil votes down repeal of pay-as-you-throw, sends it on to referendum
Rockland — After residents said they want pay-as-you-throw placed on the November ballot rather than abolished by the council, the City Council voted 5-0 to give them what they wanted Aug. 11.
In response to the petition signed by more than 700 residents opposed to pay-per-bag, Mayor Larry Pritchett had sponsored a proposed ordinance amendment that would repeal establishment of pay-per-bag at the Rockland solid waste facility.
Even though this action seemed to give the petitioners what they wanted, Pritchett received no support from members of the public, who spoke at the meeting, or fellow council members.
Resident Sandra Schramm, speaking against pay-per-bag, said placing the question on the ballot was the fair and right thing to do. She said the mayor was trying to block it from referendum because, if the people vote it down at the polls, the council could not bring the issue back for five years.
Both Schramm and Adele Grossman Faber argued that under the city's pay scale for waste disposal, commercial trash haulers get a better deal than residents. Faber argued the council was looking for another revenue stream in raising the fees charged to residents for disposal of trash.
Grossman Faber also criticized the city for taking out an ad in the newspaper to promote its trash policy, using city funds to pay for the ad.
Councilor Eric Hebert argued if the citizens want to weigh in at the polls, the council should let them. In addition, he said he could not vote for the proposed repeal because he personally favors pay-per-bag.
Councilor Frank Isganitis also said he did not support the repeal. He said that just as meters are accepted on homes to measure water and electricity use, pay-per-bag measures trash.
Councilor Elizabeth Dickerson said she is for recycling and helping the environment, but she had opposed the change to pay-per-bag out of concerns over the financial affect the policy has on residents. She said she favors mandatory recycling.
The council will decide whether to accept the petition from residents and hold a public hearing on the issue Monday, Sept. 8.
In other business, the council voted 3-2 to establish a moratorium on site plan applications for new or expanded buildings over 50 feet high in the downtown south of Park Street. Isganitis and Hebert opposed the moratorium, arguing it sent the wrong message when it comes to attracting businesses to the city.
Councilor Louise MacLellan-Ruf said she would support it because it was recommended by the Comprehensive Planning Commission.
Courier Publications News Director Daniel Dunkle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 594-4401 ext. 122.
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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.