A quick look at news of interest this week in central Maine …
THUMBS UP to the city of Waterville for pursuing a pay-per-bag trash removal system.
Coupled with curbside recycling, a pay-per-bag system, in which residents are charged a set fee per each bag of trash, helps reduce waste and promote recycling. The city estimates it would save about $350,000 a year under the system, through lower trash disposal costs.
Pay-per-bag systems are in wide use now, but they often have been controversial, as is proving the case in Waterville. Typically, residents opposed to pay-per-bag worry about the extra cost added by the special trash bags they are forced to buy. At the same time, they doubt that the back-end savings touted by municipal officials will be passed on to residents, or even materialize in the first place.
But it is more helpful to think of a pay-per-bag system as a way to bring fairness to trash collection. Without pay-per-bag, residents who take care to recycle and watch closely how much waste they produce effectively subsidize trash collection for the residents who produce a lot of trash and do not recycle properly. With pay-per-bag, residents pay based on how much trash they produce, regardless of what other residents do.
That’s not to play down the impact of the change and its added cost.
But it’s telling that the ire against pay-per-bag typically dies out not long after it is implemented, and that concerns over an increase in trash dumped on the side of the road prove unfounded.
THUMBS DOWN to the water and sewer problems at Meadowbrook Trailer Park in Richmond, which forced the town to order residents to vacate the park in two days.
The private sewage pumping station at the park is broken and water pipes are leaking, raising concerns about contamination. Before the water was shut off Tuesday, the leaking water led the park to account for about 10 percent of the total amount of water pumped by the Richmond Utilities District.
As a result, the water was shut off, and residents were told to be out by 5 p.m. Thursday. Fortunately, a tenant was attempting to replace the pumping station before the deadline.
It’s clear that the park’s owner, an 80-year-old resident of Peaks Island, has not kept up with maintenance. What’s not clear is how the park got to this point without prior intervention.
That’s a similar story to problems with housing in Augusta, which has been forced to close down some apartments because of safety concerns. The city reacted by requiring inspections on buildings that receive public funds through renters.
When an absentee landlord lets a property go downhill, and nothing is done until it is too late, residents through no fault of their own are forced to find a new place to live on short notice.
These kinds of situations should have municipal officials wondering if there is a better way.