WATERVILLE — City councilors Tuesday are scheduled to take a second of three needed votes on whether to approve a proposed $37.2 million municipal and school budget for 2014-15 that includes a controversial pay-as-you-throw trash disposal program and does not increase the current $27.40 tax rate.
The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the council chambers at The Center at 93 Main St. downtown.
Councilors could take the second and third votes on the proposed budget, or take the third and final vote at their June 17 meeting.
On Tuesday they also will consider approving three-year contacts with the companies the city would work with as part of pay-as you-throw: WasteZero, of Raleigh, N.C.; Sullivan’s Waste Disposal, of Thorndike; and Ecomaine, of Portland. City Solicitor William Lee is reviewing the contracts for form and content.
City officials say they are able to propose a flat budget for 2014-15 by including pay-as-you-throw, which is expected to be launched in September. The council also will vote Tuesday whether to schedule a referendum for June 9, 2015, so residents can vote on whether to continue pay-as-you-throw or repeal the program.
The city’s Public Works Department now picks up trash at the curb once a week at no extra cost to residents. With pay-as-you-throw, the city will continue weekly trash pickup, but residents also will recycle and their recyclables will be picked up at the curb twice a month by Sullivan’s and taken to Ecomaine. WasteZero and Ecomaine will not charge the city for upfront costs; the city will pay Sullivan’s $78,000 a year for its service. Revenue the city would receive from Ecomaine will depend on tonnage of recyclables received.
WasteZero would supply area stores designated by the city with special purple drawstring trash bags that residents would buy for their trash. The proposed contract councilors will consider signing Tuesday says those bags will be 15- and 30-gallon bags with weight limits of 15 and 25 pounds, respectively. The 30-gallon bags will be sold to residents for $10 per package of five bags, or $400 for a case of 40 rolls. The 15-gallon bags will be sold for $10 for a package of eight bags, or $400 for a case of 40 rolls. The city, at its discretion, may increase retail bag prices, according to the proposed contract.
WasteZero would coordinate all paperwork, keep track of the number of bags sold and issue the city its share of revenue for bag sales. For every $2 bag sold, the city would get $1.65 and WasteZero would get 35 cents.
The city estimates pay-as-you-throw will generate $323,000 in the first 10 months, after expenses. The city’s goal is to decrease the amount of trash taken to Oakland and then to Penobscot Energy Recovery Co., in Orrington. The city’s contract with PERC expires in 2018 and the cost to dispose of trash after that could triple, according to city officials. They say they expect people will recycle more if they have to pay for their trash bags. Meanwhile, apartment owners who have more than four apartments in a building will continue to contract with private haulers, as they do now, for trash removal.
If residents in 2015 decide to repeal the pay-as-you-throw program, the city would pay penalties to both WasteZero and Ecomaine, but Sullivan’s is not proposing a penalty for early withdrawal from the program.
Residents will be able to place their own recycling containers at the curb, and all recyclables will be placed in that one container, to be sorted at Ecomaine.
Ecomaine accepts paper, paperboard, cardboard, glass, cans, aluminum and Nos. 1-17 plastic containers. Accepted are old mail, catalogs, paperback books, magazines, office paper and envelopes, cereal boxes, newspapers, phone books, paper bags, corrugated cardboard, paper egg cartons, milk and juice cartons, plastic grocery bags, milk jugs, water jugs and bottles, detergent bottles, bleach bottles, empty oil containers, yogurt cups, shampoo bottles, metal cans, aluminum foil, trays, pans, aluminum beverage cans, clear or colored glass, aseptic juice boxes, and aerosol cans. All containers should be empty, according to Ecomaine literature.
Ecomaine will not accept garbage, hypodermic needles or sharp objects, vinyl siding, bubble wrap, food, toys, food bags including Ziplock or cling wrap, plastic film, potato chip bags, tarps, diapers, Styrofoam or expanded polystyrene containers, packaging, peanuts or meat trays, garden hoses, baby pools, CDs, porcelain or window glass.
In other matters Tuesday, Mayor Karen Heck and councilors are scheduled to recognize Albert S. Hall School student Inga Zimba, who won a nationwide Doodle for Google contest; and Peter Garrett, founder of Kennebec Messalonskee Trails, who recently retired as president of the organization.
Councilors also will consider accepting Federal Aviation Administration, state Department of Transportation and Recreational Trail Program grants, and awarding a $13,999 contract to Kramer’s Inc., of Sidney, for a wide-area mower attachment for mowing the city-owned Robert LaFleur Municipal Airport grounds.