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I cannot support PAYT without first trying non-fee alternatives

To the editor,
Some thoughts on mandatory recycling are in order.
The simple fact is that the city is paying nearly two million dollars a year for solid waste collecting, and transporting to Penacook and tipping fees. At a time when revenues are shrinking and costs are going up along with downshifting of costs from the state to the cities and towns, the City of Laconia is looking for the best way to cut expenditures in this upcoming budget and future budgets as well. It is not an easy task and cannot be rushed.
The City Council and city manager have been looking for solutions for the past two years and have tried various ways to encourage the public to get involved with voluntary recycling which means there will be less trash to dispose of and that will reduce the bottom line significantly. However, after all the publicity and efforts of the city, we haven't reached a satisfactory percentage in recycling. We seem stuck at around 14 or 15 percent, when most cities with mandatory recycling are anywhere between 30 and 50 percent. If the city reached the norm of 30 percent, the cost of trash pickup would be reduced by $45,000, the cost of hauling to Penacook would go down by $30,000 and the cost of incinerating trash would go down by $130,000.
At present, we have a few proposals we are considering. The one that seems most fair to the people, in my view, is mandatory recycling by placing recyclables in totes out with their rubbish. The collectors will go out and pick up only the rubbish that has recycling out as well. The details and questions of this system will be discussed with the disposal company at the council meeting on February 11, 2013.
Also being discussed will be a proposal for mandatory recycling with a Pay-As-You-Throw system. This system will save the same amount as the above plan, but will mean that everyone will have to purchase special bags from the city. I cannot support taking more money from the people without first trying to meet our goals without adding another fee to the people. If the former plan doesn't meet our goal, we can always go to PAYT because the public didn't do their part.
At the same time, the private haulers' rates will go up in July from $60 a ton to $90 dollars a ton, which represents more closely the actual cost of handling their waste.
The important thing to consider is that the council and city manager and especially Public Works and Ann Saltmarsh have spent two years finding a solution to solving the huge expense of trash removal. The meeting on February 11th with our collection company will define these options and discuss any other options that might reduce some of our costs.
Councilor Brenda Baer
Ward 4
Laconia
 
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