Former Rockland city attorney blasts 'pay as you throw' trash proposal

By Larry Di Giovanni | Jun 03, 2014
Photo by: Larry Di Giovanni Former Rockland City Attorney Barry Faber criticizes the Rockland City Council June 2 during their agenda-setting meeting. Faber's comments related to a proposed ordinance amendment concerning pay-per-bag trash drop-off fees at the city transfer station on Limerock Street..

Rockland — Barry Faber of Willow Street in Rockland, a former Rockland city attorney, read a one-page letter to the City Council June 2, criticizing councilors for proposing a pay-per-bag, "pay as you throw" trash system. His comments were made during the council's agenda-setting meeting.

Faber said waiting until the May 29 City budget meeting to propose a major change to the trash system is unacceptable. City residents who haul their own trash to the city transfer station, about 1,371 of them, have already paid their yearly $65 sticker fees from this May to May 2015. A change at this late date to an entirely new system is something the public should challenge, he said.

"The whole process lacked transparency and was irresponsible," Faber read from his letter. "If pay-per-bag was the wish of the council, why wasn't this started last January, instead of days before preliminary adoption of the budget?"

About 25 percent of the city's residents haul their own trash, according to city Solid Waste Facility Director David St. Laurent. The rest have their trash picked up by commercial haulers. The per-ton tipping fee is scheduled to increase from the current $110 per ton to $125 per ton under the proposed ordinance.

Currently, there is no real limit to the amount of trash single-family residents can haul to the transfer station, St. Laurent has said. Under the proposed ordinance, starting May 2, 2015, city residents would start paying 75 cents for each 12-gallon trash bag of trash, $1.50 for a 22-gallon bag, and $2.25 for each 33-gallon bag.

Faber said the May 29 budget meeting included proposals by councilors to start the pay-per-bag system as early as July 1, while another councilor proposed it to start in January.

"Another [councilor] said, 'Let's call it 'pay-as-you-throw,' as it sounds better,'" Faber said. "Who are you trying to fool? You are supposed to represent us, not yourselves."

St. Laurent has said the city would have to charge stickers of about $143 per year and tipping fees of $132 per year to break even and stop the practice of subsidizing sticker customers.

"We recommend the roll out of the 'Pay As You Throw' should coincide with the expiration of the current residential stickers," acting City Manager Thomas Luttrell wrote in a May 30 memo discussing the ordinance amendment. "The current sticker that is now on sale the transfer station expires May 1, 2015; therefore, the ['pay as you throw'] program is proposed to start on May 2, 2015."

St. Laurent said about 300 to 400 of the 1,371 who purchase stickers have yet to pay their sticker yearly fee. The ordinance proposes that they would have to pay $135 per year for their sticker after July 1, until tickers are completely phased out in May 2015.

Councilor Elizabeth Dickerson said she agreed with much of what Faber said, and expressed sympathy "for the 300 hapless souls who have not bought their sticker yet."

Councilor Frank Isganitis said the city cannot continue to subsidize trash drop-off service. The city has not done anything out of line to come to the conclusions it has, he added.

Mayor Larry Pritchett said the city is moving toward a system that charges based on volume, and finding the fairest way to do that.

"These stickers are Achilles' heels," Councilor Eric Hebert said. He offered that locking in $65 fees for the next year has put the city in a difficult position.

Luttrell said city leaders have expressed concerns that if the sticker price effectively doubles as of July 1, "We will find trash all over the road."

City Councilors expressed concerns May 29 that the system must change in part to stop abuse of the system — caused by businesses that haul in their business trash along with their residential trash.

The city's trash is incinerated at the Penobscot Bay Recovery Co. in Orrington. The city covers losses from the cost of its sticker and recycling programs through its revenue-generating landfill, which accepts construction and demolition materials.

St. Laurent has proposed that the commercial tipping fee be raised from $110 to $120 on July 1, and then increase again to $125 in May 2015.

The council will consider the ordinance for first reading during its Monday, June 9 regular meeting.

Courier Publications reporter Larry Di Giovanni can be reached at 594-4401 x. 117, or by email at:

Comments (10)
Posted by: David E Myslabodski | Jun 04, 2014 21:24

Hi there HRC,



Greetings from Broad St. Let us see . . . We have problems at the dump [Sorry, I meant  Transfer Station] and at the water treatment plant. The roads are in shambles. The only departments in town that seem to work for all people are Safety and the Public Library but City Hall wants to ax one position at the library. Am not sure about cuts at the Police Dept.



Nevertheless, City Hall just gave another $30,000.00 to Rockland Main Street inc . . .  Any ideas on how to reverse the situation and have downtown support the town and not the other way around?

Posted by: Susan Sinclair | Jun 03, 2014 22:45

Susan, you always are going to open yourself up by being overly emotional and critical about issues AND USING ALL CAPS DOESN'T HELP!!! If you're going to throw rocks and call people names then of course people are going to react. Don't be silly. By the way, for once I agree with you, the town should collect the trash AND have no sort recycling. Oh, wait, no one wants to pay for that. But, I really have nothing to say because I don't live in Rockland, and after reading related posts, hope never to do so, although I love visiting.

Posted by: Harley Roger Colwell | Jun 03, 2014 21:40

This is one of the dumbest ideas since the bath-salts craze (which, interestingly enough, gets mentioned in another article of this week's edition).... heck, maybe bath salts is even the inspiration for this hare-brained scheme. That'd certainly explain a lot.... at any rate, one of the patently faulty arguments in favor of the per-bag fee is that "It worked in Camden." Huh. Reaaallly!?#%!!!? Does it really take the redneck who lives across from the dump (that would be me) to point out the OBVIOUS disparity between Camden and Rockland in their relative socioeconomic demography? For the love of all things holy; as things stand now, Thompson Meadow Road already looks like Rockland Solid Waste Facility's official annex, and a town crew has to haul away an entire truckload of clandestinely-dumped rubbish at least quarterly.  If this abysmally stupid idea comes to fruition, then I strongly suggest that the town fathers include enough money in the budget to staff a gate house at either end of Thompson Meadow from dusk 'till dawn, as well as Greenhouse Road and any other seldom-traveled area like it within a 10 mile radius of the transfer station.... that is, unless nobody minds having the mid-coast region bear a distinct resemblance to the historic photos of Woodstock on the Monday morning following the festival. (Actually, that would be Bethel, NY, for my fellow sticklers, but I digress.....). Seriously, somebody stop the insanity!


Posted by: Ria Biley | Jun 03, 2014 18:53

Bag or sticker--makes no difference to me personally, because my household generates much less by bag than the sticker cost me this year. 

That said, I observe that single family households would have to pay more (as proposed, a LOT more) for an annual dump sticker, due to abuse " businesses that haul in their business trash along with their residential trash." Anyone remember the ghastly "parking scofflaw" crimes of a few years ago? A solution was found and the perpetrators were apprehended and duly fined. (HUZZAH!) Apparently the city can't figure out how to punish a handful of garbage criminals instead of taking it out on everybody else's already strained budgets.

Makes almost as much sense as banning peanut butter from an entire school because one student is allergic to peanuts. 

Posted by: Susan P Reitman | Jun 03, 2014 13:42

Dear Mr. Mazzeo.  First of all there are things I like about Rockland or I would not have moved here.  Secondly there are things I do not like about some of the decisions by the powers that be here in Rockland.  Let remind all of you that I have a right to voice my opinion just like you have the right to voice your opinion.  Some of you people are so thin skinned and take some things I say as an attack on you.  Lighten up people!!!!  When I talk about places I have lived I do it as comparison to some of the things that happen here not  that is better or worse.  For example some Cities picking up trash from in front of your home.  DID I SAY THAT ROCKLAND SHOULD DO THAT?  NO!!!  I WAS JUST GIVING AN EXAMPLE!!!  When the City leaders can make up their minds what to do about the trash that will be what I will have to abide by which I will do.  I have a suggestion for all of you, since my posts ruffle your feathers, when you see my name JUST DON'T READ MY POSTS AND THAT WAY YOU WON'T BE BOTHERED.  COOL YOUR JETS!!!

Posted by: Debra L Whittier | Jun 03, 2014 12:25

Well said, Francis.

Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Jun 03, 2014 10:42

Ms there anything you like about Rockland. If your life was so much better where ever you came from then go back. Nobody will get cheated out of their sticker fees but it's time for all people to accept responsibility for their own lives. I was born and raise in Rockland and it just irritates me when someone moves here and wants it to be like where they left. Now we have a bunch that wants to have the Southend of Rockland known as "SORO". Number one Rockland isn't that large and number two do we really need to be that pretentious. If you need a title to feel good about yourself go lay on a couch and see why.

Posted by: Jake Newcomb | Jun 03, 2014 09:21

I own property in Rockland, but live in Bath.  In Bath, we have pay-per-bag, which would be useless, EXCEPT we also have zero-sort curbside recycling.  My wife and I now generate 1-2 bags of trash per month.  We recycle the rest.  This would be a household cost savings and a savings to the city.  I agree though, that if the system is to change, dump stickers need to be honored until they run out.

Posted by: Priscilla Ann Shepherd | Jun 03, 2014 08:59

I'm not surprised that those 300 "Hapless souls" have not purchased the dump stickers after reading last weeks article.  Why would they want to if the system is going to change.  Why spend the $65 dump sticker fee if the city council is to change the fees.  Those 300 "hapless souls" must have common sense which the city council is obviously lacking.

Posted by: Susan P Reitman | Jun 03, 2014 08:27

Another one of the City's misguided decisions!!!!! First that hotel at the corner of Main and Pleasant streets and now this trash mess. I have already paid for m y$65.00 sticker and my sticker should be valid until May of 2015.  Last year when I had my total knee replacements I had to use a private hauler for my trash and that IS VERY EXPENSIVE plus they don't  recycle your materials.  In my opinion, to be fair, no changes should be made until May of 2015 when the dump stickers will expire.  Speaking for myself I would rather pay a $143.00 dump sticker in May of 2015 which is a approximately $11.00 a month.  I believe the citizens of Rockland should be given two [2] options:  Pay the $143.00 for the sticker or purchase the trash bags.  I have never experienced this trash mess any where but  here in Rockland.  I have always lived where the city has trash trucks that pick up the trash at the homeowner's curb one day a week; they also have trucks that pick up recycling materials.  The resident had blue recycle bins to separate things and put those bins at the curb.  I don't understand why the City fathers have to make things so difficult.  They remind me of a bunch AIR HEADS.

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