KENNEBUNK, Maine — Selectmen voted on Tuesday to increase the prices of trash bags used as part of the town’s Pay As You Throw (PAYT) system.
Effective immediately, the large, purple, 33-gallon bags will cost $22 for a package of five. As well, the small, blue, 15-gallon trash bags will cost $12 for a package of five.
Also as a result of the selectmen’s vote, the town will start offering an 8-gallon bag as a third option at the end of February. These 8-gallon bags will be sold for $7 a roll.
The town currently has enough 15-gallon bags in its inventory to last four or five months, according to Finance Director Joel Downs. Once those bags are fully sold, a roll of 5 18-gallon bags will be sold instead at the same price.
The town’s Pay As You Throw Subcommittee, chaired by Selectman Chris Cluff, recommended raising the prices of the bags in order to reduce the loss of between $70,000 and $80,000 that is projected for the town’s PAYT program during this fiscal year.
The subcommittee also recommended changing the bag sizes in order to provide residents with a greater selection, according to Cluff. The subcommittee also recommended that the bags eventually be phased into a single color, blue.
On Tuesday, Downs said he could not guarantee that changing prices will cover the costs of closing the shortfall. The reason, he said, is that several different variables are being introduced into the system — and, as a result, he cannot predict the quantity of bags that will be sold.
“We believe that if we make these adjustments, we’ll get much closer to breaking even in the Pay As You Throw program, versus where we are today,” Cluff said.
Responding to an inquiry by Selectman Ed Karytko, Downs confirmed that he will need between six months and a year before the town will have the proper data needed to determine whether the price adjustments have made a positive difference.
According to Downs, the sale of PAYT bags helps cover the town’s expenses for curbside collection, which is roughly $315,000 per year, tipping fees, which tend to come in at about $145,000 a year, the bags themselves, which are roughly $48,000 a year, and a small amount of miscellany.
Selectmen last increased the price of the PAYT bags in February of 2013. At that time, blue 15 gallon bags increased to $7.25 for a pack of five, and the 33 gallon bags increased to $15 for a pack of five.