Concerns still remain from citizens and landlords about the Fair Trash Reduction pilot program — a pay-as-you-throw model — that will begin next month in New Windsor.
But at a work session Monday night, the New Windsor Town Council, as well as county employees and a representative from Waste Zero — the company involved in the pilot — spent more than an hour trying to alleviate anger and frustration, answer questions, and prepare citizens for the beginning of the pilot.
One of the primary focuses of the meeting was to explain how the $35 gift cards and first free trash bag will be handed out. Mayor Neal Roop said representatives from Waste Zero will be in town Oct. 24 and 25 from about noon to 6 p.m. to knock on every door to hand out the gift card, brochures on the program and a starter bag.
If residents aren’t there, Roop said, Waste Zero will leave information about how residents can pick the items up at Town Hall.
For more than a year, the Board of County Commissioners has been discussing a pilot program that would treat trash as a metered utility, and New Windsor agreed to take part, though there have been disagreements between town and county officials in recent months.
In September, it was decided that the county and Waste Zero 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 the $35 gift cards to residents so they can purchase the Waste Zero trash bags from the local 7-Eleven, and commissioners agreed to help pay for a first free bag for residents.
But despite working to move forward, some residents and landlords continue to express concerns about the plan, something Kristen Brown, the vice president of waste reduction strategy for Waste Zero, tried to dispel Monday. Throughout the night, she took a number of questions, and told those in attendance that pay-as-you-throw is the single best thing someone can do to reduce trash.
She also said while the town is providing gift cards for bags, “most people will not have to spend the full $35 on their bags.”
Landlords expressed concerns over what would happen if people aren’t compliant in the program.
Brown said someone will be following the trash truck for two to three weeks as the program begins to check. And, she said, in most communities where this type of program has been implemented there is 99 percent compliance.
“Most people will just follow the directions,” Brown said.
Other concerns landlords brought up included the impact on low-income families, how to throw away large items that don’t fit into the bag and what happens, as well as who is responsible, if tenants begin to dump their trash in backyards. One went as far as to ask why New Windsor had to be the “guinea pigs” for the program.
Councilman Edward Smith said he himself doesn't believe in recycling, but was still willing to try the program to see what happens. And, Smith said, the county has been mandated by the state to reduce solid waste going to the landfill.
In terms of compliance, Brown again said in most communities, even difficult communities, this program works. Once people start, they often like the program, she added.
“I know everyone’s nervous, but that’s why it’s a pilot,” Brown said, something other council members echoed, asking citizens and landlords to give the program a chance.
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“Let’s see what happens and deal with the problems as they come,” Councilwoman Kimberlee Schultz added.