Doubling Expenses Through Fees

For this week’s Patch column, I took on Tiverton’s new Pay as You Throw (PAYT) garbage-bag fee:

Granted, of all of the factors contributing to this increase, the proximate end of the landfill’s usable life is among the most legitimate. Town leaders have spent decades inadequately preparing for the day that the dump was full – so much so that we’ll be shy of the $6.8 to 8.2 million needed to cap the dump around 2015 by between $2.4 and 3.8 million. That’s a real problem, and it still doesn’t include the costs of implementing another solution for Tiverton’s refuse. Moreover, the estimated $500,000 per year that the PAYT program is supposed to generate will still cover only half of the shortfall.
These are just the numbers, though. The point that has not been adequately considered is that the lack of preparation has not been caused by a refusal to raise taxes. This has been proven dramatically as the tax levy doubled over the last decade. In other words, the money that should have been saved in order to close the landfill was not given back to taxpayers; it was spent on other things, most significantly labor costs. Why, then, should the pain for this error be felt among those who’ve been forced to increase town revenue, these many years, rather than those who’ve benefited by the profligate spending?

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Pat Williams
Pat Williams
13 years ago

I love reading this site, and I don’t even live in RI. I agree with you guys 99.9 percent. But I have to say when it comes to pay-as-you-throw, I think you may be throwing the baby out with bath water. Honestly, PAYT could have come right out of the Tea Party playbook. I’ve been pushing it in my town, Springfield, MA, for years. I invite you to check out my argument in a letter to the editor I wrote to the Springfield Republican last week (you’ll find it by googling “Pat Williams and pay as you throw”). And you really ought to read an opinion piece written by the head of the Maine Tea Party Patriots (google “A market solution to Bangor’s rising trash costs”). I don’t know the story in Tiverton, and if they’re being double taxed they’re getting a raw deal. But PAYT is not double taxing- it’s simply letting the free and open market determine how much you and I pay for trash services. Thanks for the great work you guys do. Pat Williams

13 years ago

Oh, come on! Why let those trash Nazis coerce you into their socialist schemes. Clearly the libertarian solution is the best: load up the soiled diapers, etc. in your car’s trunk and personally negotiate disposal fees (likely out of state unfortunately… you do have time for a weekly trip to PA, yes?).

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