ROCKLAND, Maine — Rockland city councilors were adamant Monday night that they must impose a pay-per-bag trash system for residents.
City councilors agreed that they would take a preliminary vote on June 9 to adopt a pay-per-bag ordinance that would take effect May 1, 2015. The new ordinance would impose a fee of $2.25 for a 33-gallon bag, $1.50 for a 22-gallon bag, and 75 cents for a 12-gallon bag.
Rockland resident Barry Faber, a former city attorney and county probate judge, criticized councilors for discussing last week imposing the plan as early as July 1 this year. He said that the city has sold nearly 1,400 dump stickers during the past month to residents who expect to be able to use those $65 stickers through next May. He said the council cannot breach that contract.
Councilor Eric Hebert said that pay-per-bag is necessary to address the disparity between the $65 per year that residents pay for a dump sticker to dispose of unlimited trash and the $110 per ton that commercial haulers are charged.
The city administration issued a proposal Tuesday night to start pay-per-bag next May 1 and increase the per-ton for commercial haulers from $110 per $120 starting July 1.
Councilor Frank Isganitis said that to equalize the disparity, the city could begin the per-bag fee next May and charge those residents another $65 at the same time.
“Are you kidding me?” Councilor Elizabeth Dickerson asked, saying residents would not accept that double charge.
Interim City Manager Tom Luttrell said he agreed with former Mayor Tom Molloy that if the city were to both impose another $65 fee and the pay-per-bag plan, trash would end up on the sides of the road.
Susan Dates of Rockland said the city needs to encourage recycling. She said she knows of apartment buildings where the commercial haulers pick up all the trash and then do not recycle but simply dispose of it. She said residents should find a hauler who does separate and recycle.
Dates said she worked at Mid-Coast Solid Waste Corp. in Rockport when they started the pay-per-bag system, and there were instances at the beginning when people would dispose of trash at the gate in order to avoid the fees, but that soon ended.
The City Council enacted a pay-per-bag ordinance in 2006, but voters overturned that rule by a 959-479 vote after a petition drive.
The Mid-Coast Solid Waste Corp., based in Rockport, charges $2 for larger trash bags. The corporation serves Camden, Rockport, Hope and Lincolnville.
Residents of Thomaston, Owls Head and South Thomaston pay $5 every two years for a dump sticker to use the transfer station in Thomaston.