ATA to BOS: PAYT is a PIA

People are calling.

Repeatedly.

They’re a bit confused over word of the pay as you throw (PAYT) program and they’ve been bombarding acting Town Administrator (ATA) Tim McInerney’s  office with questions. Buy special bags? Recycle more? Isn’t it everyone’s right to just put the can at the curb filled with whatever and fuggetaboutit?

McInerney told Selectmen (BOS)  last night that he plans to hold probably the first of many question and answer sessions about PAYT Thursday night (that’s tomorrow) at 7 p.m. in conference room B at the Municipal Center. He’s also taped a short program for GCTV with Recycling Committee Chairman Lorraine DiFazio.

“It’s a change,” McInerney said. “People need to understand it…. we want to increase recycling and reduce the trash tonnage that is brought to the incinerator or landfill.”

Revenue used for the bags (you can find about the pricing structure and other details here) will be used to offset the $70/ton tipping cost from trash. As people recycle more, the tonnage will also go down, saving the town money, he said.

The calls his office has been receiving haven’t been positive, he added. “People are more upset. They don’t want to do it.” (PIA)

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12 thoughts on “ATA to BOS: PAYT is a PIA

  1. Ok I must admit I was extemely skeptical about PAYT (ugh I dislike these) but I was surprised at how much recycling we actually had in just 1 week.

    My concern is if the town is going to adopt this new PAYT policy WHEN will we move to EVERY week recycling pick up?

    I am really tired of the cardboard boxes, etc all over the neighborhood from the over-flowing bins – I really believe that this also needs to be addressed…

    I think if the entire plan was laid out in writing for ALL to see everyone would be more comfortable with it … but we just keep get bits and pieces and I think this is causing quite the problem.

  2. I think citizens need to rethink how the put out their trash vs recycling. Everyone is so used to using the tiny bins.

    I use a big barrel for recycling. Nothing falls out. If you use a tiny bin, you will fill it up fast & probably not recycle anymore after that, plus you have the problem that Sarah’s mom talked about; trash blowing all over the place.

    So, switch to a big 30 gallon barrel. Simply pick up a FREE recycling sticker at the Town Hall and slap it on! You’ll recycle more & the larger barrel will keep it all neat & tidy!

  3. We’ve had PAYT here in Worcester for a few years.

    The fundamental thing to understand about this is that it will ease the financial burden for the local government by shifting costs to the individual, while NOT lowering taxes. These and other schemes, essentially falling into a “privatization” category, are promoted as a way to “save the town money”… but the savings are not there for the taxpayer as the burden of profit is added to the formerly tax revenue supported activity (non-profit).

    The simple equation is that adding profit adds cost to the final payer: you. This, in combination with a complete absence of comparably lowered taxes makes it nothing more than a scam.

    On the plus side, however, there ARE some good arguments for PAYT. The burden of handling trash is transferred only to those who dispose of trash, and this is done by how much trash you actually want to dispose of. This, even in my eyes, tends to work out better in many ways, especially towards any ostensible goals of more recycling, less trash, and ultimately, less pollution.

    Overall, I am not all that disappointed with the PAYT system here in Worcester, so far… But another long range problem for the individual is that the price of the trash bags, inevitably, will increase. The bags cost twice what they started out at, now, here in Worcester. And the prospect of a revenue-hungry city government raising that price again will forever be on the horizon…

    There are clearly enough debatable points on either side of this issue that the residents of Grafton should spend adequate time to pursue an understanding of what it will and won’t do for the town, and what it will and won’t do for individuals.

  4. I think what tends to stop people from using the big barrels are newspapers (I guess the upside to dying papers is less recycling… the downside, of course, is a public that gets all its news from Perez Hilton). We have a couple brown bags filled with papers every recycling week and they fit snugly into the recycling bin along with all the cans and glass and whatnot. It just feels less organized to throw all those in a regular barrel.

    Fun note: last week, we used a plastic storage bin that we had onhand as our accessory recycling bin. It worked great, until the recycling guys tossed it on the driveway and it shattered. It’s in the trash this week. If you draft another container for recycling, make sure it can stand up to abuse!

    I’m not going to be able to make it to the meeting Thursday (my husband is bringing our son to the Bruins and I’m not subjecting the townspeople to a 3rd grader in a snit), but I’d be interested in hearing from anyone who does go.

  5. RE: the big barrels and newspaper … just throw them in! Grafton has co-mingled recycling, remember — you don’t have to seperate newspaper anymore.

    PAYT is a good program. Yes, it will cost us some $$, but how much? If you generate four bags of trash a week, that’s about $150 a year. To enable the town to save $500,000 a year, increase recycling, and reduce landfill volume, I say $150/year is OK with me.

  6. I know I haven’t done my due diligence on the subject having only read your blog for PAYT info (not a knock against this terrific resource at all, but a knock on me for not getting to town meetings to hear first hand) BUT, if we’re saving the town $500,000 a year, where does that money go? Is it money that usually just gets added onto a deficit? Is it being reinvested in infrastructure? Schools? Does anyone know yet?

  7. Jeff,
    My understanding is that w/out this PAYT program, the town is in the red next fiscal year for about $500k. So the money that the town will not have to spend on tipping fees by converting to a PAYT program will basically bring us back to zero.

    I don’t think it’s fair to call it a scam, but it is another way to raise taxes. What is our alternative? We need $500k for next fiscal year. Do we start laying off employees? Prop 2 1/2 override?
    I guess those are always options and maybe that will even come in the following fiscal year.

    Trash is our 3rd biggest expenditure. If you recycle as much as you could be, you’d probably be looking at buying one bag per week ($1.50 x 52 = $78/year) There are 5 in our family. We only put out one barrel per week and it’s not even full.

    Jenn,
    I do stack my newspapers and TONS of school papers in the green recycling bin too.

    I’ll be going to the meeting tonight so I you want to “deputize” me, I’ll take notes & send them to you & you can write it up tomorrow.

  8. I think the acting town administrator’s (ATA) office needs to start getting information out to the town. There is a lot of misinformation circulating. And conflicting information in addition to change, brings angry phone calls to the ATA’s office. The meeting tomorrow is great but if you don’t read this blog or attend the BOS meetings you won’t know. (The Grafton News will arrive at my house Friday.) Since Verizon has yet to make the public access stations available this cannot be the primary way we are educated about this new system.

    We do need to consider every week recycling pick up. I feel like my garage is taken over by recyclables by pick up day. (We do use the large containers too.)

    We used PAYT many years ago in PA. I think it will be less expensive for my house than in PA simply because Grafton has a great recycling program. PA only recycled #1 and #2 plastic and newspaper when we were there. If households correctly use the free recycling program the need for bags will be less. There are many ways to rid your house of unwanted clutter, yard sales, Good Will, freecycle, all come to mind.

    I feel one other benefit to the PAYT program is that holds individuals accountable for their personal waste.

    For the record my family of four also only puts out one barrel of trash per week.

  9. Jenn,
    I guess the reason the TA’s office is getting more negative than positive calls is that people usually only call to voice a negative concern (ok, complain) than to give a compliment.

    So i wonder if we took a poll in town, how many would be for vs against the plan?

    Night Nurse:
    the town’s contract only stipulates to pick up recycling every other week, so if they chg that, you guessed it…..additional cost.

    Also, the meeting tomorrow night is advertised on the Town website. I signed up for email alerts & got my email this morning that told me about the meeting.

  10. I wonder if Tim and the BoS appreciate just how much of their current complain-a-thon headache stems from the feet-dragging that Verizon is doing with switching on the local access channels. I bet a Blue goo cone at S&S on opening day that most of the calls are from people with FiOS who haven’t followed the slow but steady progression toward PAYT over the last many, many months.
    I hope this lights a fire under the powers that be to fix that situation.

  11. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t we find out at the Selectmen’s Meeting about FiOS that they were required legally to have the PEG or Local Access channels up in, what 1 or 2 years? They agreed and signed the contract to have it done in 6 months, but I’m pretty sure that the law only requires them to do it within the 1st year. While I understand people’s frustration (and no, I’m not a mole or anything) at not having access to the televised meetings, there’s still the old way of actually going! I don’t understand why people are so down on Verizon for this. Was the fact that Charter aired local access a big enough deal for you to keep their service? If not, then this was something you should have known about and anticipated ahead of time. Besides, even if they have 6 months, it’s been what 4 1/2? 5? How many other town projects are done ahead of time?

  12. If PAYT can reduce our waste (as it did with many towns, 53% in Ayer), it is a slam dunk. This issue goes beyond tax rates, municipal mismangement, (verizon’s lethargy,) or whatever else holds us back. New things can be unsettling at first, but we’ll look back in a couple of years and be even more proud of our community.

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