Rockland mayor calls for repeal of mandatory pay-per-bag law

Posted Aug. 07, 2014, at 5:51 p.m.
Last modified Aug. 07, 2014, at 9:29 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — Faced with opposition from more than 700 residents to a pending mandatory pay-per-bag trash disposal law, the city’s mayor said Thursday that he will ask city councilors to repeal the ordinance at its Monday night meeting.

Mayor Larry Pritchett cast the deciding ballot on July 14 when councilors voted 3 to 2 to approve the new trash disposal system. He said Thursday that he had been undecided on the issue up until the night of the meeting because of past opposition to a pay-per-bag system.

After that July vote, a group of opponents began a petition drive and collected more than 700 signatures in less than two weeks to place a repeal referendum on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Pritchett said Thursday that he will support a repeal by the council, which would make the referendum unnecessary.

“I am willing to take 700 signatures on petitions seeking to overturn a new ordinance as a strong enough expression of voter reservations to simply repeal the ordinance provisions in question,” Pritchett said.

The mayor said both the council and petitioners share common goals — to reduce the amount of trash being trucked to the Penobscot Energy Recovery Corp. incinerator in Orrington, to lower the overall costs of solid waste operations and to more fairly distribute costs.

“I think the council’s — and the community’s — time would be best spent moving forward in a direction [concerning] solid waste that does not mandate an approach that so many residents continue to find objectionable,” he said.

He said residents and officials can discuss such proposals as single stream recycling or curbside pickup.

A previous City Council also had approved a mandatory pay-per-pag law in 2006. But a petition drive then forced a referendum, and residents repealed the law by a 959-479 vote in June 2006.