The Board of County Commissioners approved providing the first trash bag free to those in New Windsor pay-as-you-throw pilot program set to begin next month.
While the decision was unanimous — the commissioners voted 4-0 Thursday, with Commissioner Doug Howard, R-District 5, not in attendance — it did not come without frustration expressed by some commissioners, two of whom said they were “reluctantly” voting in favor of the free trash bag.
Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, said it appears people have forgotten that the Fair Trash Reduction pilot program is just that — a pilot.
“I, quite frankly, am about done with it. I’m going to be honest with you,” Wantz said at Thursday’s meeting, later adding, “I’m about ready to pull [the plug].”
Commissioners have been talking for months about a pilot program that would treat garbage like a metered utility. In September, is was decided that the county and Waste Zero, the company contracted to provide the garbage bags and assist in trash reduction, would receive the profits from the bags and waive the town’s tipping fee for trash throughout the duration of the pilot program.
The 15-gallon bags will cost 60 cents and the larger, 30-gallon bags will cost $1.20 — with 20 cents from the smaller bags and 30 cents from the larger bags going back to Waste Zero for their production of the bags and the remainder going to the county.
The New Windsor Town Council agreed to give $35 gift cards to residents so they can purchase the Waste Zero trash bags from the local 7-Eleven.
Throughout Thursday’s meeting, Wantz continued to voice annoyance at how the situation has played out, and said it seems like one thing after another keeps coming up. Wantz said his entire road was more than willing to participate, and they wouldn’t have asked for free bags.
This is a pilot program, Wantz said, adding “How many times do I have to say that?”
Commissioner Dennis Frazier, R-District 3, also asked why they can’t just move forward with the pilot program under the already agreed upon specifics.
“Let’s just roll with it,” Frazier said, adding that he didn’t think commissioners should pay for the first round of bags for New Windsor citizens.
But for Commissioner Richard Rothschild, R-District 4 — which includes New Windsor — despite agreeing with the other commissioner’s frustrations, said it wasn’t worth arguing over when the cost of providing the first round of bags, especially with Waste Zero chipping in, wasn’t that much money.
Dusty Hilbert, bureau chief of solid waste for the county, said the town estimates they will need 615 bags for the first round of bags, which comes in at $1.20 for large bags. The town pays 90 cents of each bag, and Waste Zero pays 30 cents of each bag, he said.
The county’s portion of supplying the first round of bags comes in at $553.50, he said.
Rothschild said it’s not unusual in a pilot program or new program for a vendor or company to “seed the marketplace” by providing something for free, because it helps people transition from the old way of doing something.
And while right now it doesn’t make sense economically to recycle, the market will likely change, and to fight this small thing would just create more stress, Rothschild said.
“You've got to choose your battles. This one’s not worth winning,” he said.