Due to the library's Wi-Fi network kicking users off after 30 minutes, the live update could not happen.
Here is the rundown though what happened during the 2-hour-long heated debate.
Steve Curry, director of public health kicks things off. The power point presentation is up and roaring, and will last about 20 minutes.
DEP official Irene Congden on stage with Curry.
Showing residents it is a scale, more trash vs. more recycling.
Whether or not people realize it, trash collection and disposal is currently paid through property taxes.
127 communities in the Commonwealth have some sort of Pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) fee in place.
Only 15 percent of trash residents throw away is actually trash, according to Congden.
Showed the difference between the rate of recycling vs. disposable trash in communities like Fitchburg that have no pay-as-you-throw plan, and communities with a plan. The difference is significant. Congden said state has noticed if a town has a plan in place, they throw away significantly less amount of trash.
Worcester has over 45 percent recycling rate, who has a pay-as-you-throw in place. Fitchburg is only at a 15 percent recylcing rate. Leominster is in the same boat, at 15 percent.
Massachusetts does have a waste ban law, recyclable paper, yard waste, glass, metal and plastic bottles are all banned from the trash.
PAYT is a waste reduction program. With it, each household trash disposal cost is based on how much you throw out. Households that recycle more, pay less.
"It is that simple," said Congden.
It consists of a big recycling bin, and a small trash can. Fitchburg has single-stream recycling, so recyclable goods can all go together, residents do not have to sort the items aheaad of time.
The Green Bag Program: Households up to 8 units will pay $25 quarterly bill, in their water bill, to cover fixed costs. Residents will purchase green bags at local retailers, $1.50 for a large bag, which Congden stepped inside of to show the large size, and $.75 for a smaller bag.
The price of bags, covers the cost of disposal, and will all go into an enterprise fund.
Residents will get an introductory coupon, 10 free bags, 5 of each, at the local store. (Coupon will have an expiration date)
Everything has to be in a green PAYT bag.
Recylcing and yard waste disposal remains free.
Residents can opt out by contracting with a private hauler.
Gardner and Worcester closest cities with PAYT plans. Lunenburg, Ayer, Northborough, and Maynard have it as well.
Some of these programs are over 10 years old, and continue to work, said COngden. She said the residents in those towns feel it is logically to pay for the amount of trash they put out, no more, no less.
Congden encouraged people to donate items, still good, but don't want.
"It is amazing how much we throw out that doesn't need to be thrown out," said Congden.
Currently the city throws away 19,000 tons of trash, at a cost of over $1.7 million to the city. Hope to get it down to 13,000 tons, and cost the city only $1.4 million.
The recycling market could add other opportunities for the city. More jobs being the biggest. Nationally 1.1 million jobs have been added since 2000 due to increased recycling.
Newark Group, out of Fitchburg creates items out of recycled paper, such as Harry Potter book covers. They need paper, according to Congden, sad when its own hometown cannot supply it with enough recyclable paper.
The landfill will fill up soon. Then where will we go with our trash?
Recycling one ton of paper, saves 17 20 -year-old trees, and produces enough energy to power the average home for six months. It takes one month for what goes into recycling bin, to come back out onto the shelf.
The Commonwealth is very supportive of program, will give $4 per household if it is successful.
The great thing about the new system, according to Curry, is it creates equity between single-family, and multi-family units in the city.
About 15 people line up right away for questions.
Jeff Jersyck said he is against the current proposal.
Curry said the city needs to be run as a business, cannot continue to provide services with no revenue.
Enterprise programs in Fitchburg have failed miserable, sewer, and water have failed miserably. Believes there will be an increase with those two bills.
Curry is refuting, it is not his budget.
Jersyck gets a round of applause
He wants to know what the projected revenue will be for PAYT.
Curry said he hopes it will generate $200,000 in FY09.
Jersyck said the implementation of the program will probably be flawed. It’s implementation was not successful in Gardner. Projected revenue was off by over $300,000.
Congden said in Gardner, the landfill closed at the same time, so the residents had to take the brunt of that.
Curry added that Gardner went to $3.50 per bag, a lot more than he is proposing.
Jersyck, adding about $200 per year to each resident, if put out one bag a week, and flat fee.
Jersyck, asked if recycling will be picked up every week, Curry said no, still every other week.
Jersyck said it is not the case there will be no need for landfills and incinerators, because Waste Management is in the business of attracting people to landfills, and will find someone.
Jersyck thinks opting out will be a nightmare for the Board of Health.
Bags will still have to go to the landfill by residents in the PAYT bags, so if have landfill sticker, purchase a $50 permit and PAYT bags. Or you show the Board of Health that you have a contract with a private company.
Jersyck ended by saying, the revenue projections will be off. He got a round of applause.
He would like to see PAYT go on a ballot, and let residents decide.
“You are going to raise my taxes for something I am already getting…NO.”
He doesn’t think 10 people sitting in a room should decide about a PAYT program.
He said the city should go into state receivership, and let someone fix the budget.
I myself am totally opposed to another fee. Put it to a tax increase, Prop 2 ½ override, so voters decide.
He thinks that recycling should be pushed, and enforced instead of implementing a fee.
Congden said it only gives about a 10 percent recycling increase.
He said last time this was discussed, the Board of Health was the first one against it, because of enforcement.
Bob said he would rather have a tax that can be voted on, than a fee he can’t decide on.
A senior citizen on a fixed income, in a single family home, why should I pay $100 and a multi-family home should pay the same?
Curry said multi-family units will pay $100 per unit. 3 apartments, $300 annual fee.
She wants to know what she should do with the trash that ends up in her yard for people who opt out? Where will the city get the money to clean up after?
Congden said illegally dumping is always an issue, if you have it now, you will always have it. Congden said it costs about $300-$500 a year to hire a private company.
She said if someone is illegally dumping on your property, call the Board of Health.
“This works. It is always hard in the beginning,” said Congden.
For many years we were able to use to landfill. It was sold down the tubes though to Waste Management, and they are reaping the benefits of it.
I own three multi-families and one single family. I now pay to get rid of trash when I have to. I take it to the Leominster transfer station, and pay by the tonnage, instead of paying for a $50 permit at Fitchburg’s landfill.
Unless our political parties come up with a solution, like putting a water meter so each tenant pays for their water bill. Should do this with trash to, let tenants pay for their trash.
The police are dealing with the corruption that has come to the city, because of the methadone clinic that was put here.
I find it very difficult for people to be making decisions for this town, that do not live in this town.
Has talked to people in other communities who say the bags rip easily.
Curry said you can put them in a bag in a barrel, and will be accepted, as long as the bag is visible.
I would like to hear numbers on the increase in numbers of recycling and increase in cost.
Brian said taxes should be reduced by that amount (amount of trash fee) then they should pay for the PAYT program, instead of being taxed on the tax.
“Show me the numbers, show me the money,” of paying for recycling.
Congden said if we add another truck for recycling, the collection cost would stay the same as is now. Have a contract through 2011 for collection cost with Waste Management, that will stay in place.
Brian does not believe their will be no additional cost, because their will be more recycled goods.
Congden explained the collection fee is a flat fee, and is not tied into disposal costs.
Calling the $100 a magic number. Saying it is a magic number because the city needs $1 million.
Curry said it is not a magic number, that is how much it costs to run the program.
Tom said you are paying $3.50 a week for trash, breaking down the annual fee, and cost of bag.
Curry said non-profits will pay the fee now too.
“You are going to have a nightmare in enforcement,” said Tom.
Curry said the program adds in a few employees to help with enforcement. And if a resident does not pay a water bill, the bill will go out separately.
Tom said if people go away, will they still pay the cost of the rubbish?
Curry said they will have an opt out program, people that leave the city in the winter.
I have been in the apartment business for 30 years, and I have been saying, the single-family units subsidize the rubbish.
Congden said the reason not to just pay for the bags, is because it costs $1 million no matter how many bags are picked up, that is the flat fee paid to Waste Management.
The bag cost covers the disposal cost.
She said that is why the program is fair, if you put out one bag, you pay for one bag. If you put out 10 bags, you pay for 10.
Tom said the single-family unit will stay be subsidizing the cost of rubbish disposal.
Tom thinks the cost should be put into the price of the bags, not into a fee.
Tom said it is false to believe that the life of the landfill will be prolonged, because Waste Management will go after other towns to fill the landfill.
Curry said he did not promote the life of the landfill.
Congden said regardless, the landfill will be filled up. But Fitchburg residents will help in reducing what fills it. She said it is a scary thing for the landfill to close and say to residents, you are on your own, at about $500 a year to contract a private company.
The mayor took and ran on a platform of change. So far all I have seen is the same thing, raise taxes, reduce services.
I am all for recycling, but instead of imposing this fee, why not put out extra containers for recycling.
William said PAYT program is not benefiting the residents of Fitchburg, because they are not receiving more services and paying less. The landfill will still get the tonnage, so where is the benefit for us?
William said Curry will be generating revenue and making a profit, and Curry agreed, but that will help the city.
“The enterprise fund is a joke. That is a fact,” said William
One woman is in favor of this program.
The point is we have to get started. We will face this problem a few years down the road again.
She said there has to be an incentive to recycle. Residents are given free recyclable bills.
She realizes you have to pay for what you get, and it costs to do things.
“I think this program is a sensible one because it encourages promotes to recycle. I think this program will work, but it needs a lot of education.”
Thanked them for coming down. And said he feels for the city councilors, facing important issues, with not a lot of money to go around.
He said he pays for trash now, and recycles.
He wants to know what will prevent people from hiding trash under their recyclable items.
Curry said they will reject the bag and notify the Board of Health.
Lives in a 3 family home as a single family home. You are going to charge me $300. What are you going to do for me? Are you going to reimburse me?
She said the city will continue to tax her for trash pick-up, and she will not get any service.
“Every time this comes up, it is basically to compensate for other areas in the city.”
Congden said this is a great point to bring up to City Councilors.
Curry said there is an opt out clause, if she doesn’t have three units rented out, she wont pay $300.
Sherry is saying the point of this program is just to pay for something to be hire to enforce PAYT.
This system can give more enforcement, said Curry.
Also wants it to go to ballot so residents can chose.
Woman said we should do what they do in Europe. Refill the containers they have. Taking you laundry detergent bottle back to the store, to be refilled.
“We need help in this city. We can’t do it, we just can’t do it anymore. I think you need to be cognizant of that, that we cannot endure any more costs”
What happens if a bag rips, if it is not heavy?
He felt the bag, and said it was not that heavy
They told him he can put the bags in his barrel.
He argued that most barrels are 55 gallons, the bags are only 33 gallons.
He wants to know what the experience has been in cities with non-English speaking residents or low income residents.
Congden said it works. She said it enforces itself very fast.
“The second you pay for the bag, it will reduce your trash.”
Congden said burst bags have not been an issue. It is usually a bad batch, so gets replaced.
Chuck said, okay that is very helpful and good to know.
Chuck said it is also good to know that enforcement in poorer communities is working.
Phil said he is being asked to consider PAYT, but he is not really. To be able to consider it, it should go to ballot, he should be able to vote on it. Curry is not considering what everyone in the room is saying.
$100 is cheap according to Congden. $50 is average for a drop-off. Some communities are $280-$350 for fees. Congden said it is hard to compare though, because different communities offer different things with the fees.
Congden said three options, one is paying the $25 per quarter, the other is $25, but for first year you get 10 free bags, the next option is that it is on a tax-base. Everyone still pays for the bags though.
This option (the first one) is the one the Board of Health feels is the best, said Congden.
Asked if there was a way for the city to restructure the way recyclables are picked up? He said in England there are central yards where people bring their items and sort them out themselves.
Wants to know if some of the vacant land can be used around the city for a centralized recycling system,
Curry said yes that could happen, a beneficial recycling program could produce other options. He said that option has been explored, it is a matter of cost right now.
Wanted to other another option, that is free.
Free-cycle, an organization she heads up, is a great way for people to get ready of items that are still in usable condition, but people may not want to use.
She offered info for anyone interested in being a part of Free-cycle.
There were about five people left waiting to ask questions, but because the library closes at 8 p.m. residents were asked save the questions.
Now the City Council will debate the three options under PAYT, and it is clear that residents do not want to leave it in the hands of councilors, they want it brought to them by a ballot vote.