There’s an unusually large crowd for tonight’s town council meeting… unless, of course, the recession has made this a more common form of entertainment than was the case back before I stopped attending regularly. It seems a handful of attendees are here to discuss increases in mooring fees (for late payment). Hopefully, a greater number are here to object to the proposed pay-as-you-throw trash program that would more than double (or more) the amount that residents pay for trash pickup.
I took the podium to suggest that I’ll not be able to avail myself of trash pickup if its cost more than doubles for my household, and Department of Public Works Director Stephen Berlucchi hastened to correct my misunderstanding: Residents will have to buy the bags to dispose of trash in the dump, whether it’s picked up or dropped off. There’ll be no way around it.
In other words, this is just a massive hidden regressive tax increase during the worst recession since the Great Depression, implemented because the town did not adequately budget for the closure of the landfill over the half-century since it emptied.
One other observation: Over the phone, my wife mentioned to a friend in town where I was headed tonight, and the friend had no idea this was coming. If people have to start buying garbage bags, I’d wager they’ll be in a budget cutting mood come the financial town meeting, this spring.
It sounds as if some sort of tax offset will be created. Councilor Louise Durfee suggested that some portion of the revenue from pay-as-you-throw should offset the budget line item for the landfill. Council President Don Bollin suggested that one $2 bag per week should be considered included with one’s taxes.
The public hearing on this issue has been continued to the second town council meeting in January.