Garbage Could Be Talk of Town in Shirley
SHIRLEY -- Trash pickup, historically a hot topic in town, is likely to come up again at this year’s annual Town Meeting, set for Monday at 7:15 p.m. at Ayer-Shirley Regional Middle School.
Article 9 on the 22-item warrant, which also features a $15 million omnibus operating budget and several other money articles, seeks $415,465 for curbside solid waste and recycling.
But the big news here is that the Pay Per Bag program residents have grown to tolerate, if not celebrate, is slated to go offline for good in October. That is, if residents buy into the idea.
According to Board of Health Chairman Jay Howell, the only other option is to raise the price of trash bags as the cost of curbside pickup continues to rise.
Howell laid out the new plan for the selectmen Monday night.
After selling the signature green bags for decades and plowing proceeds back into the curbside program, with diminishing returns due to rising costs in recent years, the Board of Health, which administers the program, came up with a better way, following the lead of other communities.
Specifically, they want to replace disposable bags with durable bins.
As Howell has said before, the problem is recycling.
Previously a money-maker for haulers, who provided it free as part of their contract, its an expense now. As nations that once accepted recyclable no longer do so, companies that once paid for recyclables now charge instead.
“This is a worldwide issue,” Howell said.
Citing a price of $75 per ton, he said the goal is to stabilize the cost, which goes up every year. With the program in deficit, the difference must be covered by tapping the general fund to close the gap with tax money.
Switching to the bins, which are sturdy, lidded and wheeled, allows the trash truck driver to pick up, dump and return them to curbside, never leaving the truck.
“The hauler likes that...” Howell said. And the cost should stop going up. “It’s gone out of control,” he said.
Each household participating in the program would get one 64-gallon trash cart and one 95-gallon recycling cart. Details are spelled out in a list of Capital Plan projects on the Town Meeting warrant.
The initial outlay would be $215,000 to buy the barrels, averaging $35,833 annually with a five-year bond.
The barrels last about 10 years and stay with the house they are issued to, he said.
Residents’ participation fee would be $60.88 per quarter or $243.52 a year. Seniors get a discount: $125 per year.
“So that’s a good deal,” Howell said.
He said that would be less than it costs now to put out a large trash bag every week, at $2.50 each or $25 for 10.
The pickup schedule would stay as is: Weekly for trash, every other week for recycling.