ROCKLAND, Maine — City councilors say that, with improved education about waste disposal and recycling, the community can save money, which will translate into lower costs for residents.
The councillors voted unanimously Monday night to set the annual resident waste disposal sticker fee to $95, up from $65 last year. The council also set target fees for the ensuing two years.
Councilor Valli Geiger advised residents that they can avoid the increase if they recycle more and choose the option of paying for disposal on a per bag basis rather than paying the annual sticker fee.
Last year, residents repealed a mandatory pay-per-bag ordinance, but residents have been and will continue to be able to dispose of trash through a per-bag system. About 1,200 households have dump stickers.
Rockland is spending about $420,000 this year for disposing of trash at the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. incinerator in Orrington. This does not include the cost of trucking the wastes to Orrington.
Councilors voted unanimously Monday night to approve a resolve that calls for reducing the amount of wastes sent to PERC, pointing out that 40 percent of what is sent to the facility consists of food and other organic materials. The council directed the manager to work at increasing recycling and composting, perhaps with a regional effort.
The resolve also stresses the need for educating residents on how to reduce their waste disposal.
The $95 annual fee takes effect May 1. That fee will increase to $125 on May 1, 2016, and will jump to $155 on May 1, 2017. In addition, commercial haulers will pay $120 per ton starting May 1, 2015. That will increase to $130 in 2016 and $146 in 2017.
Geiger said the 2016 and 2017 increases on both sticker fees and commercial hauling rates could be avoided if more composting can be achieved.
Councilor Larry Pritchett said he hopes the city will speed up its plans to undertake a more comprehensive composting project to reduce the wastes going to PERC.
At the Monday night meeting, former councilor Adele Grossman Faber said the public does not want to see business as usual at the dump. She reiterated her call for the city to visit the St. George waste facility, which has a much greater recycling rate than Rockland.
She also urged the Council not to renew the contracts with outside waste firms to dump demolition debris in the Rockland landfill quarry. Grossman Faber said those out-of-town firms have been allowed to dump for well below the market rate.
“We’ve been giving away our landfill,” she said of the disposal contracts.
In addition, she chided the city for not appointing a citizen committee to advise the city on ways to improve its solid waste system. She spearheaded the effort last year that led to the repeal of an ordinance passed by the Council that would have mandated people pay a per-bag fee for trash disposal.