With less than a month until the New Windsor Fair Trash Reduction pilot program — a pay-as-you-throw metered trash program — begins, some New Windsor residents are still expressing concerns and disdain over the pilot.
During a Wednesday night council meeting, a handful of individuals spoke to the council, citing frustration over bag costs, and saying that many in the town felt the same way. Some community members said the issue should be taken to a town vote before it goes into effect.
Rachel Harper, who lives in New Windsor, said with a child in daycare, high water bills and other bills, having to pay for bags for pay-as-you-throw is just one more expense.
“We’re barely making ends meet,” she said.
She also spoke about having a toddler, and because the child is still in diapers, her family throws out more trash.
“This doesn’t seem like this is very good for people with large families,” she added.
And while some of her concerns may seem like small things, she said, it’s clear listening to others and reading the comments on Facebook that the town doesn’t want the program.
“Nobody else wanted this so why do we have to take it because nobody else wanted it?” she asked.
The program in question, which is set to begin next month, will be an eight-month pilot where residents of New Windsor will pay for what they throw away in the trash, but not for what they recycle.
Last month, it was decided — after some back and forth — 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.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Harper said she’s already heard people say they’ll dump their trash illegally as opposed to participating in the pilot.
“It doesn't seem fair that we’re being subjected to this,” she said, adding “I’m not the only one that feels this way.”
Mayor Neal Roop said while New Windsor is participating in the pilot program now, it’s likely that this type of program will be mandatory countywide because Carroll is being required to reduce its trash rate.
Roop said he understand some — like Harper’s family — may have more trash because they have children, but that is why the council approved the $35 gift cards.
The town will look at about halfway through the program to see is having success, with the ultimate goal to lower taxes using money saved through the program.
“Hopefully we see major savings in that four- to five-month period,” he said.
And if there is success, after June 30 when the pilot ends, the town can take it over and use ad different company. Roop said there are already other companies contacting him saying they can work with the town and have bags that are cheaper.
Despite comments made at a recent Board of County Commissioners meeting, New Windsor council members wanted it known the town was not pulling out of the pilot, and still remained committed to participating in this phase of the Fair Trash Reduction, or FuTuRe, program.
Councilwoman Kimberlee Schultz also responded, asking what more the town should be doing to communicate information.
The town has put information about the pilot in the newsletter, it’s been covered in the newspaper, it’s been on social media and it’s in the meeting minutes, she said.
“We have been talking about this for a year and now that we’ve made decision, everyone is upset with us,” she said, adding that as citizens, there is a responsibility to pay attention.
Schultz also said that the town can’t put every decision to a vote, adding “If you’re upset with us, you can vote three of us out in May.”
Councilman Edward Smith went further, and said people have said the town council should come door to door to inform people, which it can’t do, because they work full-time jobs. The one thing that cannot be said is that the information hasn’t been communicated, he said.