The Courier-Gazette editorial

Ways to improve the pay-per-bag model

By The Courier-Gazette Editorial Board | Jun 05, 2014

The City Council's unexpected decision to consider a pay-per-bag fee for bringing trash to the transfer station has generated a lot of interest in the past week. We think the idea could work, but have some suggestions to improve upon it.

Rockland residents have been paying $65 per year for a dump sticker to put on their windshields, giving them the right to dump as much trash at the station each week as they like.

According to city officials, this has not generated enough revenue to pay the full cost of disposing of the trash while saving up for the closure of the landfill at the dump quarry. The City Council has no way to solve the problems at the dump that will make everyone happy.

For some single residents or small households, they may produce very small amounts of trash, a bag or two per week, so it might be cheaper for them in the long run to go to a $2-per-bag fee than to keep raising the price of an annual dump sticker. Meanwhile, for larger households or those who produce more trash, pay-per-bag could be more expensive.

What also should not be lost in this economic discussion is the fact that there is an environmental concern and responsibility. Whatever we do with fees at the transfer station should encourage increased recycling.

We would propose that as part of this change, the city explore single-stream recycling. Any resident could pick up a bin each week at the transfer station and fill it with all of their recyclable materials — cardboard, paper, cans, plastics — and then bring it back at the end of the week. There would be no need to sort these items with a single-stream system. Increased recycling would bring down the amount of trash going into those costly bags, saving the city and the residents money.

The planet would thank us for this responsible effort.

The council should absolutely allow residents to use the dump stickers until next year at this time. If the city wanted to change this process this year, it should have started this discussion in January instead of waiting for residents to start renewing their stickers for the year.

When the city changes to pay-per-bag, it should stick to one fee for one size bag rather than creating a confusing or complicated schedule of fees.

We realize increased transfer station fees are a bitter pill to swallow with property taxes already so high and sewer fees rising. Councilors should keep that in mind when talking about "subsidizing" residents who are using dump stickers to drop off their trash.

However, other communities have adopted this system and we believe it could work in Rockland. We can adapt to changes over time.

70 years since D-Day

It was arguably the most significant event of the 20th century.

On June 6, 1944, a force of 156,000 American, British and Canadian troops landed on the beaches of Normandy, France in a massive invasion that was the beginning of the end of Nazi power in Europe. The coastline had been heavily fortified in preparation for just such an invasion, and it was only at great cost in lives that a beachhead was established, making possible the eventual liberation of invaded countries and bringing to an end the horrors of the Holocaust.

Addressing the Army prior to the embarkation, Gen. Eisenhower said: "The eyes of the world are upon you. The tide has turned. Accept nothing else than full victory."

Rockland was as invested in the battle as any American city. The Courier-Gazette carried a report on its front page June 6, 1944, and ran the following editorial June 9:

"When this newspaper went to press Tuesday forenoon the city was in a state of delirious happiness over news that the invasion was so successfully begun. Ears bent to the radio sets during the day and night heard little else than invasion news. They heard the press correspondents recite their personal experiences, they heard the radio commentators telling what will be done, and amid it all they heard the prayers uttered by grateful citizens throughout the country. We have all been more or less impatient at what seemed to be the tardiness of the invasion, but when we came to recognize the enormity of the undertaking, and the extreme care and skill which had to be exercised by the military chiefs we are only too glad to admit that they were right and we were wrong. Ahead of us lie days which will be filled with alternate rejoicing and sorrow, but which, it would seem, can carry no doubt as to the outcome. How long will it take to bring about the complete suppression of Hitlerism? We shall be very sorry if this year does not witness the glad climax."

The span of 70 years can be a lifetime, and each passing year we lose more of our veterans of that war. On Friday, June 6, 2014, we hope our readers will have an opportunity to consider the sacrifice of our veterans and honor them.

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