WATERVILLE — City officials are working on a plan to have Sullivan’s Disposal Service of Thorndike pick up recyclables at the curb every other week, rather than only during the first and third full week of the month, according to City Manager Michael Roy.

That effort to increase recycling pickup days will be one of the issues Roy and Mayor Nick Isgro plan to update residents on Wednesday at the second forum this spring on pay-as-you-throw, the city’s new trash collection system. The forum will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday in The Forum room at The Center at 93 Main St. downtown.

A special referendum is scheduled for June 9 so residents can vote on whether to keep or repeal pay-as-you-throw. When city councilors voted 5-2 last year to include pay-as-you-throw in the city’s $37.2 million budget, they did so with the stipulation that residents would be able to decide this year whether to continue the program.

At the first public forum held April 15, most of those who spoke said they like pay-as-you-throw, but not certain aspects of it. One of their complaints was that recyclables are not picked up often enough — it’s on a resident’s regular trash day during the first and third full week of the month. That means months with five weeks can stretch out the time when recyclables are picked up.

Residents also complained April 15 that the special purple bags they buy for their trash are odd-shaped and tear easily, and more education is needed to teach residents what they may and may not recycle.

Isgro and Roy on Wednesday will address the four major questions residents had, according to Roy.

“We’re making a push with our recycler to change his schedule to every other week,” Roy said of Sullivan’s, which the city pays $72,000 a year to collect recyclables.

He also said a special informational session has been scheduled from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. May 26 also in The Forum room at The Center, where ecomaine’s business development manager, Lissa Bitterman, will talk about items that may be recycled and those that may not, according to Roy.

Another question residents asked is what they can do with bulky waste, including items such as sofas, appliances and electronics. Roy said they may take them to Pine Tree Waste on Airport Road and pay a fee for disposal.

Concerning the purple trash bags that WasteZero supplies to businesses for purchase by residents, Roy said city officials have done a lot of research since April 15 on bags and possible options and learned that two major bag brands, Hefty and Glad, have bags that are not as thick as WasteZero’s purple bags.

“You can get a different size and thickness bag from our supplier. There is a cost for going to a sturdier, heavier bag,” Roy said. “The purple bags we have now are thicker bags than what you can buy in the store. We went and bought Hefty and Glad bags, and we’re going to hold those up Wednesday night.”

The shapes of the 8- and 15-gallon bags are nearly identical to trash bags one can buy in the store also, he said.

City officials estimate the amount of trash the city sends annually to Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. in Orrington will drop from about 4,400 tons a year to 2,000 tons by the end of June, which is the end of the city’s 2014-15 fiscal year.

The city expects to generate about $430,000 a year with the trash program through trash bags and tipping fees.

If voters decide to repeal pay-as-you-throw, the city would have to find $430,000 savings elsewhere and would have to add at least $72,000 to that figure if the city were to decide to continue the recycling program, according to both Roy and the city’s finance director, Chuck Calkins.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17


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