Rockland voters begin petition to defeat pay-per-bag ordinance

By Juliette Laaka | Jul 23, 2014
Photo by: Juliette Laaka Rockland voters, front from left, John Grondin and Ramona Clark; and back, Sandra Schramm, Adele Faber, Barry Faber, Jerry Sharp, Beth Berry, Barrett Winstead, Theodore Berry and Michael Lane. Also present was Warren Perry.

Rockland — Eleven Rockland voters began a petition the morning of July 22 at City Hall, intending to defeat the pay-per-bag fee a divided City Council adopted earlier this month.

The council voted 3-2 to approve an ordinance amendment establishing a pay-per-bag system for disposal of municipal solid waste. Councilors Louise MacLellan-Ruf and Elizabeth Dickerson opposed the ordinance.

Dickerson previously said she has always promoted recycling, taking care of the environment and limiting trash, but said she opposed this because the citizens of Rockland feel pushed up against a wall with property taxes and other rising costs for services.

Michael Lane, a citizen at City Hall July 22, echoed Dickerson's reasoning, saying young families are especially affected unfairly by the ordinance, considering the disposal of diapers and other waste associated with raising young children.

The group will need to collect 476 signatures to put a referendum on the November ballot and has 30 days to collect the necessary signatures, he said.

Lane said he recycles as much as he can, but with four adults living in his home, the household generates about two bags of trash per week. He said the pay-per-bag model does not consider a person's ability to pay.

He said the dump is a city service, which should be considered in the same way the public library is. He said residents should not be paying for a town service, and believes the council is attempting to take the dump off the budget and create a new revenue stream which could be abused in the future.

The pay-per-bag model was defeated by citizens once before, in 2006, he said.

Mayor Larry Pritchett said the pay-as-you throw model means residents would pay based on the amount of trash they generate, which is the fairest way to deal with trash disposal.

The disposal at the solid waste facility of paper, glass, cardboard, most plastics, cans, metals, some yard waste and some demolition debris is free. If this type of waste is separated, residents would pay less and the city would incur lower costs to truck and dispose of waste, Pritchett said, adding thousands of other towns and cities use the same system and have lowered their solid waste disposal cost by more than $250,000 annually.

As of May 2, 2015, residents will have to buy special bags from the city to dispose of household trash or pay by the ton, rather than buying dump sticker for their vehicles.

The City Council voted 3-2 June 30 to change the fees effective July 1. However, most residents had already purchased their resident permit stickers for the year.

The stickers, which go on resident vehicles and allow them to dump as much bagged household trash as they like in the transfer station over the year, have been issued May 1 to April 30 of the following year. Solid Waste Director David St. Laurent said most residents had already paid the $65 to buy their sticker for the year by the time the council voted on the new schedule.

The city will honor the $65 stickers until May 1, 2015.

If a resident did not buy a sticker before July 1, he or she can still purchase a sticker for $135, which will cover throwing trash bags in the transfer station until May 1, 2015.

"This is a bridge to get us to May of next year," St. Laurent said.

After that, the residents will have to use a pay-per-bag system or pay per ton to dump their own household trash, or hire a commercial hauler to take their trash.

The pay-per-bag fees are set at $2.25 per 33-gallon bag, $1.50 per 22-gallon bag and $0.75 for 12-gallon bags.

The per ton fee will be $115 until May 1, 2015. After that, it will go to $125 per ton.

Other fees apply to demolition and construction waste, furniture and certain specific items such as tires, batteries and fluorescent lamps.

As the city goes to pay-per-bag next year, residents should be more motivated to recycle cardboard, cans, periodicals, certain plastics. St. Laurent said the city hopes to create better, simpler recycling system to go along with the pay-as-you-throw model.

The city's trash is incinerated at Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. in Orrington. The increase in fees is needed for the transfer station to pay for itself, according to city officials.

Courier Publications reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 or by email at

Comments (23)
Posted by: Sandra Schramm | Jul 25, 2014 22:43

There is a copy of the petition at the City Clerk's window and you can sign it there. Thanks to all those that have tracked down a petition to get this on the ballot. The the residents regain control of important decisions affecting their taxes.


It it is helpful that it was pointed out that these bags will go in the hopper or incinerator.  Many towns and cities have far more effective approaches to waste handling costing far less.


Ms. Sutton, Candidate for Maine Senate, if that is the most intelligent, helpful comment you can muster you just might lose a lot of votes. Very environmentally conscientious.

On March 12, 2014 there are comments you made about neighbor helping neighbor plus other statements that seem to indicate you do not know what you stand for. A check of Paul Sutton Maine, first hit on Google where you ask for donations is in sharp contrast to your comment here.

Posted by: David E Myslabodski | Jul 25, 2014 10:50

To P S,


How is this any different? You ask . . .


Let us use your car example. Sure enough, you  pay excise tax to your town [based on the sticker value & age of the vehicle] and you also pay for your gas [including fed & state taxes]. To be "fair" you should pay the excise tax to your town based on a formula using the miles you drive and the weight of your vehicle. This to arrive to the cost of the wear & tear to the roads resulting from your driving [The car may get old but the wear & tear does not go down with time; still you pay less]. To be even more "fair" your vehicle should have a GPS system to record where do you drive to be able to have each town share the taxes . . . On the same token; childless families should not support the school system, etc, etc, etc. We could talk about "fair" taxes until the cows come home . . . .


One more time City Hall is trying to keep us away from the real issue: mismanagement and continued subsidies to businesses on the back of Rockland residents.

Posted by: paula sutton | Jul 25, 2014 09:45

How is asking people to pay for what they use unfair?  Large famiies chose to have large families, they pay more for food simply beause there are more mouthes to feed....sheer logic......if they generate more trash why should they not pay for it?

Why would it not be unfair to ask another person to pay for somebody else's choices?

If i drive more miles in my car I pay for more gas, my choice , my money.


How is this any different?  I live inWarren and we have a pay bag system.

Posted by: Harley Roger Colwell | Jul 24, 2014 22:03

For the town fathers to adopt ANY policy which would quite obviously not be permitted had it gone to a vote by the citizens of Rockland is a case study in high-handed, out-of-touch politics at best.... and is patenly narcissistic and indulgant at worst. As such, this small, imperious band of self-assured royalty has regularly demonstrated that they view the opinion of the lowly masses in their fiefdom as irrelevant and petty; yet now the population of Rockland.... a city that has teetered on the edge of a tax-revolt for over a decade.... acts indignant and surprised when yet again some moronic and unpopular idea comes to fruition without their input? Why... WHY do we keep voting these morons in?!?%$#? Enough. Time to (eh-hem) take out the trash and put an end to this arrogant nonsense. What will be next, once these funds have been squandered like so many others? How about we just draw a line in the sand here, and insist that the town's money gets managed better, so this sort of thing stops happening? Thank you, Louise and Elizabeth for being the voice of reason on this issue and others like it.

Posted by: David E Myslabodski | Jul 24, 2014 12:46



Once again, City Hall is trying to bamboozle the Citizens of Rockland by presenting false choices and offering "solutions." Just follow the trail . . . . In the middle of budget discussions, suddenly, the council decides to shift to PPG and also to convert to SSR [Single-Stream Recycling] this after a short presentation by the corporation that will make money by shifting to SSR.


You want to go green and lower the cost and help the environment? Fine, then inspect what is deposited in the hopper and fine whoever that does not recycle, starting with the stuff dumped by businesses that use haulers.


PPB will not solve any recycling issues and the monies will be raided again.


SSR ends up costing more and requires large amounts of energy. Moreover SSR  does not sort as good as people do and tons of "recyclables" end up being buried because they cannot be used.


Please, let us stay focused. THE ISSUE is mismanagement at City Hall


Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Jul 24, 2014 12:24

Mr Mazzeo is aware that businesses use commercial haulers as does Mr Mazzeo. However I recycle and take the recyclables to the dump myself. I believe in the pay per bag as I can try to cut my cost to a minimum. I don't want to make this a low income, inappropriate spending or mismanagement issue. To me it is simple. If you don't want to recycle then pay more. Somebody has to pay and if $65.00 doesn't cover it, it has to come from the general fund. To say it isn't fair to large families is asinine. We all pay for their educations and that should be enough.

Posted by: Sandra Schramm | Jul 24, 2014 07:49

JC and AC I will be over or you can stop here.  This issue needs to follow a democratic process. For the Mayor to bring it to the residents then there is a 3-2 vote with little discussion and no public hearing is wrong. The Residents of Rockland spoke clearly on this a few years ago. Now about 7 years of mismanagement and here it comes again.  The petition starts the process but the November vote is crucial. The bag system will make much $$ for the city but as always accounts get raided and the landfill closure does not get funded. Rigor to Manager Hall's departure the Council voted to fund the closure account by $500,000 per year from the money out of town demolition haulers brought in. That would have put approximately $ 3,500,000.00 in the account. Due to not mandating haulers be bonded and other errors, this year is projected to see less than $1,000.000.00. And yes some monies have been raided for other things.  Some residents have carefully monitored the bookkeeping from the Finance Dept's own figures.  The bag proposal will put a lot of money in the fund on the backs of low income families unnecessarily and the monies will still fund other projects. You do not need to spend much time there to see the mismanagement.  Anyone wishing to help get this on the ballot and help out, contact anyone you recognize in the photo. Keep democracy alive.


Posted by: Kathryn Fogg | Jul 24, 2014 02:29

It seems that we have a choice here - either pay per bag or pay the flat fee. Choose the one that will be cheaper.  Whatever way, we are going to have to pay more as we generate a colossal amount of trash.  The problem is larger than our community - excessive packaging, non biodegradable containers, toxins dumped carelessly, plastics dumped into our waterways that harm our wildlife and sloppy people who toss  and leave clutter on the streets  for someone else to pick up.  This is a national problem and I think we just have to bite the bullet and suck it up. Start a movement to reduce what we have to dump,

Posted by: ALBERT E COLSON | Jul 24, 2014 00:06

Can't wait to sign. Joan

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Jul 23, 2014 21:49

Okay, let's start living in the solution. One way to do that is to elect councilors in November who will represent our long time working class families. The dump situation is only a small part of the problem.  Rockland Taxpayers Alliance needs to get organized and the twelve who are working on this petition is a good place to start. Failure to organize will mean failure at the polls. We have seen that happen before and it will happen again.

Posted by: Susan P Reitman | Jul 23, 2014 18:48

I remember several years ago there was a referendum vote allowing gay marriage in Maine and the the majority of voters said "NO" to gay marriage in Maine.  When that happened I believed we had heard the last of gay marriage in Maine because the voters had spoken but I was wrong because another petition was passed around and gay marriage was put to the vote again and this time the voters of Maine voted to allow gay marriage.  MY POINT IS IT DOES NO GOOD TO HAVE A VOTE ON A REFERENDUM BECAUSE PEOPLE KEEP PUTTING THE PROBLEM ON A REFERENDUM UNTIL THEY GET THE RESULT THEY WANT.

I recycle everything I can get my hands on so paying by the bag won't cost me that much but I do believe the trash system around here is in the DARK AGES.  Every place I have lived you put your trash on the curb one day a week and the City trash trucks collected the trash and one day a week the recycle truck would come around and pick up your recycled items.  I have several blue recycle bins I still use today to separate the recycle stuff and carry it to the dump.

THE TRASH SYSTEM AS IT STANDS IS NOW IS NOT FAIR ESPECIALLY FOR LARGE FAMILIES. What the citizens of Rockland should be doing is demanding the City purchase trash trucks, etc.. for curbside trash pick up at each home.  Plus that would give people jobs to drive the trash trucks, etc.  The dump was going to charge I think $143.00 a year to take your trash to the dump before they came up with the pay per bag.  If the City is worried about the cost of purchasing trash trucks, etc. charge Rockland Citizens the $143.00 a month until the trash trucks are paid for.

Posted by: David E Myslabodski | Jul 23, 2014 18:28

To J Y and the rest of the 99% of Rocklanders who have not packed the suitcases  [yet]:

Re "This measure along with increase in property tax is driving long standing working class families from our city and its disappointing that the Mayor and council show little concern for this phenomena."

Forget about the words and look at the ACTIONS coming out of Ali-Baba and the 40 Developers Cave [aka City Hall]. All is going well according to their plan. They cannot wait to get rid of the 99% and make Rockland into a snotty retirement community for the 1% . . .

Posted by: Russell Garfield York | Jul 23, 2014 17:40

sorry I missed the eight am appointment but I will be supporting this petition with all that I can do think it might be a good time to look at down sizing the work force at the dump oh im sorry transfer station might be a good time to look at combing the dump with the public works that seems to work good in near bye towns

Posted by: James York | Jul 23, 2014 17:36

MT: The Mayor was quoted in the article and he also cast a deciding 3-2 vote for pay per, that was my reference here.  I think Mr. Mazzeo is probably aware that the vast majority of business and non-profits intown use commercial haulers.  Further the people advocating for dump stickers or flat fee are not suggesting families pay for businesses' rubbish.

Its families that were paying $65/yr for say 3 22 gal bags a week will see their 'dump expenses' increase 3-4 times more or to roughly $230/yr.  Where else would the city be allowed to get away with such a hike of 300-400%.  This measure along with increase in property tax is driving long standing working class families from our city and its disappointing that the Mayor and council show little concern for this phenomena.

Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Jul 23, 2014 16:03

I won't sign that petition because I'm tired of paying for those that do not want to recycle. We have a person at the dump that knows what he's doing and what it cost to transfer trash. If we all pay the same then nobody has a complaint. If you want to pay for all these businesses and non-profits to dump their trash then sign that petition. If you understand the number of people using th dump and the number of tax bills sent out you won't sign it. These people that organized that petition would jump over a ten dollar bill to get at a quarter.

Posted by: Sandra Schramm | Jul 23, 2014 15:52

Ms. Boutin where are you located?


Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Jul 23, 2014 15:38

The corporate welfare will never end until someone other than Main Street supporters sits on the board. Until then us old time Rocklanders  are slowly dying off.

Posted by: James York | Jul 23, 2014 14:15

Well said Ms. Boutin, the Mayor's has wrongheaded logic on this.  Like schools, the library, rec-center, etc, the dump should Not be a pay-as you go service.  The dump is  service that the city should fund through property taxes.  I liken the dump sticker to paying a little extra for your son or daughter to get involved in a certain activity at the Rec- but everytime they go to the Rec they don't have to pay a $1 to get in...


Posted by: Dennis Putansu | Jul 23, 2014 13:48

In regards to the glass, I was informed more than two years ago, that the glass from the recycle bin is buried in quarry due to the high cost of recycling it.

In regards to the petition, great news!

I always thought that a portion of my property tax was used to operate the transfer station.

Posted by: David E Myslabodski | Jul 23, 2014 11:50

To M T:


Would yo pls clarify your statements regarding glass? Every time I recycle at the transfer station I bring [non-deposit] glass and always find a container to deposit the empties.


Single-Stream Recycling is a fad that started in the West Coast. Are we trying to be green or are we trying to pay another corporation to take care of our recyclables? SSR ends up costing more money and much more energy

Posted by: David E Myslabodski | Jul 23, 2014 11:37

Time for the Citizens of Rockland to take City Hall back!

The issue at hand is much more than just “pay-per-bag.” The Cave of Ali-Baba and the 40 Developers [aka Rockland’s City Hall] does no longer listens to the people. We get CMCA, a hoity-toity “Boutique” hotel, The Farnsworth gets two new sidewalks [mind you that the old sidewalk lasted just about one year], Rockland Main Street Inc gets $30,000.00, etc, etc, etc . . .


Moreover, I wonder who decided that Rockland has to be run as a business. We are told that the WWTP and the transfer station “have to stand on their own.” I do not remember that the Citizens of Rockland were ever asked . . . .  If that were the case; why is it that the WWTP is always underperforming due to industrial discharge and the offender keeps discharging its waste and out-of-town businesses are dumping in the quarry at rock-bottom prices?


Will City Hall ever stop its corporate welfare programs? Will City Hall ever do something regarding all the Not-For-Profits that contribute zero but demand services?


City Hall will not change its ways unless forced to do so by the Citizens of Rockland. Reversing PPB is a step in the right direction.

Posted by: Nicole Jeanette Boutin | Jul 23, 2014 10:40

Bring it up to our office we will sign! We already pay for the transfer station with our taxes...If the Mayor's response to this being the fairest way to pay...I don't have and kids going to school , so I should be able to opt out of the school portion of the taxes...right?

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Jul 23, 2014 10:35

Quite a mixture of unhappy residents. Whether or not I agree about the pay per bag,  the people spoke clearly before and evidently weren't taken seriously. 

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