WATERVILLE — City councilors will be asked to give final approval to changes in the city’s solid waste ordinance that includes a controversial pay-as-you-throw rubbish disposal plan approved by the council six months ago and implemented by the city in September.

The meeting Tuesday night will be the first council session since a new mayor and two new city councilors were elected in November.

The council meeting begins at 7 p.m. following the 6 p.m. inauguration of Nick Isgro as the city’s 53rd mayor. Councilors are scheduled to take a second and possibly third of three votes needed to change the ordinance to reflect the curbside recycling and pay-as-you-throw programs, which went into effect in 2014.

The city did not change the city’s solid waste ordinance when pay-as-you-throw was approved, but stopped picking up trash at homes that did not comply with the requirement that refuse be packed in the city’s official purple trash bags.

The plan was adopted as part of the council’s appropriation of a $37.2 million city budget last June. The city charter provides that council orders making appropriations “shall be confined to the subject of appropriations.”

City Manager Mike Roy referred to the proposed changes to the ordinance as a “housekeeping measure” and said it is likely both votes will be taken on Tuesday. In December, councilors voted 7-0 to approve the changes to the ordinance, and Roy said he expected the council to again vote in favor of the changes. All three votes must pass in order for the changes to go into effect.

If the changes are approved, voters are still expected to get the final say in an expected referendum vote on whether to keep the pay-as-you-throw program, which requires residents to dispose of trash in purple garbage bags they must purchase. Currently, the city’s solid waste ordinance provides only that curbside trash must be in a reasonably-sized two-handled container.

Nick Isgro takes office as mayor before the council meeting Tuesday night and will have the power to veto the council’s approval of the changes. Isgro said Monday that he prefers to update the ordinance, but said that changes need to be made to the existing pay-as-you-throw program.

“I think at this point it will end the debate as to whether the city is going to pick up non-pay-as-you-throw bags or not,” Isgro said. “There’s been a lot of controversy out there, and I think it’s important that if we’re going to enforce a program, that we back it up.”

In the past, Isgro has said that he does not support the pay-as-you-throw trash program as is and said Friday that he thinks changes can be made to make the program less controversial among residents and still save the city money. City officials estimate that between $300,000 and $350,000 per year in trash disposal fees will be saved through the pay-as-you-throw and its companion curbside recycling programs.

Early statistics showed that in just the first month of pay-as-you-throw, the amount of trash collected in the city was down 193 tons compared with the previous year.

“I think when you look at the raw numbers people realize that if we want to reduce property taxes, we have to do something different than what we were doing before with the trash,” Isgro said. “I think we’re going to need a lot of public discussion between now and June to plan this out and make it work for the city and residents as well.”

Some of the aspects of the program that Isgro would like to address are prices charged for city trash bags, whether bags, stickers or another option should used for disposal and the frequency of pick-up of recyclables and trash.

“I think this is an issue that will play an important role in upcoming months as we begin to talk about the budget, because depending on how much trash we pick up, it’s going to have a big impact on the budget,” he said.

Also on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting is the appointment of residents to boards and committees including the Airport Advisory Committee, Board of Zoning Appeals, Planning Board, Solid Waste and Recycling Committee and Waterville Housing Authority.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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