Imagine how we’d feel if all the heating bills in Waterville, whether for oil, gas, wood or coal, whether for homes, apartment buildings or businesses, were divided up and included in our property tax bill.

Whether our home was big and drafty with an old furnace, or cozy and insulated with an energy-efficient heating system, whether we kept our thermostat at 80 degrees or 60 degrees, we’d pay for the average fuel use, not just the amount we used. Nobody would have any incentive to save on fuel, so we’d just use more and more of it, and our taxes would just keep going up.

Of course, we don’t pay for our heating that way; we pay only for what we use in our own homes. So why do some people still want to pay for trash disposal collectively, instead of individually?

Waterville has had seven months of pay-as-you-throw to raise our awareness of just how much trash we generate, and how much of that can be recycled — or avoided (by buying fewer disposable products and more re-usable; looking for products with less packaging material, etc). By having to pay out-of-pocket for the amount of trash we produce, we each have an incentive to produce less, and thereby take control of our costs. This works: We’ve already reduced our waste by 42 tons per week.

When Waterville’s current PERC contract expires, our tipping costs likely will double. If we repeal pay-as-you-throw, those extra 42 tons would cost the city about $5,000 per week. Imagine what that would do our property taxes.

If we really want to save money, weneed to look at the big picture. I think we’ll find that pay-as-you-throw is cheaper than it looks.

Claire Prontnicki


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