The city of Waterville has held two informational meetings about the pay-as-you-throw solid waste disposal and curbside recycling program implemented last year.

The April meeting was particularly interesting because a number of people, including Mayor Nick Isgro, said that although they opposed the measure when it was passed, they now support it. While the reasons offered for rethinking their position included convenience and fairness, one prominent recurring theme was the large financial savings that has resulted.

Currently, Waterville sends its trash to the Oakland transfer station and then on to the PERC incinerator in Orrington, where it pays $60 per ton for incineration (called a “tipping fee”). Pay-as-you-throw trash collection, coupled with single-sort curbside recycling, has cut Waterville’s trash (and hence the money spent on tipping fees) by more than half, while boosting the city’s recycling rate sevenfold. The city is projecting it will save $430,000 in the first year of this new program, and the savings will be used to hold down taxes.

The PERC contract ends in 2018 and, as a result, the tipping fee could double to $120 per ton of trash. Without pay-as-you-throw, the city would need to raise taxes to cover the resulting increase in disposal cost.

On June 9, Waterville residents will be asked whether they want to repeal this program. I urge residents to cast a no vote against repeal.

Tom Tietenberg


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