WATERVILLE — The city expects to generate $430,000 a year with the pay-as-you-throw trash collection system it launched in September through trash bag sales revenue and reduced tipping fees, according to City Manager Michael Roy.

“We spent quite a few hours last week going through the numbers over and over and over again, so this is our estimate going forward,” Roy said.

He was discussing city revenue Tuesday night at a budget workshop with city councilors and some department heads.

The city’s finance director, Chuck Calkins, said revenue from the sale of trash bags through February this year was $136,000, an amount Roy said is a little less than projected. The amount of trash the city sent to Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. in Orrington dropped 2,400 tons, according to Calkins.

The city had estimated it would reduce its trash tonnage by 40 percent with pay-as-you-throw, but it actually decreased by 55 percent, Roy and Calkins said.

“We used to do 4,400 tons a year, and they’re projecting doing only 2,000 this year — 2015-16,” Calkins said.

The city’s fiscal year is July 1 to June 30, so pay-as-you-throw will not have completed its first full year by the end of June.

Meanwhile, Roy said city officials in the near future should have a workshop to discuss solid waste. Solid waste, he said, is the biggest issue the city will face in the next three years — the “biggest concern on the horizon.”

Councilor Karen Rancourt-Thomas, D-Ward 7, asked whether the city has a backup plan for solid waste disposal, should voters at a referendum scheduled for June 9 decide to repeal pay-as-you-throw.

“If that should happen in June, we’ll have to find $435,000 in savings in the budget, if we eliminate pay-as-you-throw,” Roy said, adding that $72,000 must be added to that figure if the city decides to continue the recycling program.

Council Chairman Fred Stubbert, D-Ward 1, said illegal dumping of trash has occurred because of pay-as-you-throw.

“There are apartments full of trash right now,” he said. “I’ve talked to a couple of landlords, and they’re upset. Wait until the snow melts.”

Rancourt-Thomas said there is a lot of trash around buildings in the city’s South End, which she represents. Meanwhile, Roy said a public meeting will be held sometime next month to explain the results of pay-as-you-throw and what repealing it would mean.

Rancourt-Thomas said people need to know exactly what will happen if they vote to continue pay-as-you-throw or if they repeal it.

“We definitely need a meeting to get the facts out — no preaching,” she said.

The council last year voted to approve the pay-as-you-throw program as part of the $37.2 million municipal and school budget, despite opposition from people who spoke at council meetings. As part of their vote, councilors promised to hold a referendum June 9 this year so people could repeal pay-as-you-throw if they weren’t satisfied with it.

“I think what happened last year is it was just dropped on people,” Rancourt-Thomas said. “It really divided the city in a lot of different ways, so we really don’t want to do that again.”

Both she and Stubbert last year voted against the budget because pay-as-you-throw was included in it. Rancourt-Thomas said she thought residents should have had a say in the decision to launch the program.

Residents must buy special purple bags for their trash and place them at the curb. As part of the program, their recycling is picked up at the curb on specified days of the month.

During a discussion Tuesday about revenue in the city clerk’s office, City Clerk Patti Dubois said that when MaineGeneral Health moved its inpatient hospital from Waterville to Augusta, the revenue generated from people buying birth certificates in her office went from $45,000 to $33,000. What used to be Thayer Unit, MaineGeneral Medical Center, on North Street is now Thayer Center for Health, a comprehensive outpatient facility, not an inpatient hospital, so babies no longer are born there. That revenue, according to Dubois, shifted to Augusta, where babies are born.

“A little over $10,000 hit in our revenue is pretty dramatic,” she said.

At her comments, City Councilor Nathaniel White, D-Ward 2, encouraged people to have their babies at Inland Hospital, an inpatient hospital on Kennedy Memorial Drive affiliated with Eastern Maine Medical Center.

“Let’s push for Inland,” White said. “Let’s go.”

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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