Town council on county trash pilot program: 'Do they want the town of New Windsor to do this or not?'

During a two-hour meeting Wednesday night, the New Windsor Town Council fielded questions and concerns about a planned county trash pilot that would use a “pay-as-you-throw” model.

But while concerns remained for some citizens by the end of the night’s meeting, one thing was clear — despite comments made at a recent Board of County Commissioners meeting, 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.


That said, council members expressed frustration, and Councilman Edward Smith said Wednesday he found the commissioners’ comments and attitude “disheartening.”

Specifically, Smith said, he took issue with commissioner comments expressing disappointment in the town. During the Aug. 30 meeting, Commissioner Steven Wantz, R-District 1, said he thought it was worth hearing from the council, but added, “And I think the ‘good neighbors’ goes both ways. … I’m disappointed in New Windsor.”

Smith said he found those comments “repulsive.”

He said Wednesday night was the 11th hour, and no commissioner was in attendance, not even the one that’s supposed to represent the town, he added. Smith said the commissioners are trying to put blame on the town, which is unfair to the citizens, mayor and council.

“It is my belief that [the commissioners] are very soft on the program,” he said. “Do they want the town of New Windsor to do this or not?”

Councilman Edwin Palsgrove expressed similar sentiments and said the town was still interested in the pilot, and said he hopes the pilot can be successful.

“I hope we can move forward,” he said, adding, “I never saw it as dead deal.”

What has been discussed so far would be a pilot where residents of New Windsor would pay for what they throw away in the trash, but not for what they recycle, with a system that treats trash disposal like metered utilities. Residents would purchase designated trash bags that hold up to 33 gallons with a 30-pound weight limit, and the cost of the bag would directly pay for its disposal.

The Town Council also brought up a few concerns of their own Wednesday night, specifically that dealt with what the program would be after the pilot was over, what happens if recycling becomes more costly and also what the impacts were on certain businesses.

“What kind of guarantee does the town have in the event we go into this wholeheartedly and people start recycling like wild and the county decides it’s costing them too much money and they want to start charging for recycling?” Councilman Dave Hoffman asked county staff in attendance at the meeting.

Dusty Hilbert, bureau chief of solid waste for the county, said for the pilot, there would be no cost for recycling, adding that if that wasn’t currently in the most recent version of the memorandum of understanding, it could be added.

After the pilot finishes though, Hilbert said, he didn’t know what would happen.

Councilwoman Kimberlee Schultz also expressed concern over how the county was feeling about the pilot, and what would happen to the program in the long term.

“I’m concerned that we’re putting the effort and frankly the adjustment on our citizens and now what I’m hearing from the county is, ‘Well, we’re not going to do this anymore,’ ” she said.


The mayor and council fielded questions from the public for the final 30 or so minutes of Wednesday’s meeting.

Questions had to do with concern over paying for trash bags, how a program like this could save citizens money and if taxes would go down because citizens are paying separately for the bags.

And while members of the council had questions and concerns Wednesday, overall the mayor and council were supportive of the pilot. The town is expected to meet again Sept. 17 for a work session where the pilot and a new memorandum of understanding from the county is expected to be discussed.

“I think we just need to give it a try,” Schultz told New Windsor residents, adding the landfill is going to fill up and something has to be done. “We have to think long term with this.”