Talking Trash in Berlin

Trash collection is creating quite a stink in Berlin.

Residents voted to keep manual pickup despite a push by town officials to go automated.

Right now, bags and cans are picked up by hand by garbage collectors. In January, the town moved to upgrade the system to special cans that can be picked up by a truck with an automated hydraulic arm.

The plan was to kick it off July 1st, but it hit a road block when residents voted Tuesday to reject the new system.

"I like the idea that we can put out anything and they’ll pick it up," said Joyce Smoluk, a Berlin resident since the 1960s. "If we have old blinds, if we have sticks, we have to bundle them up. It’s hard to get everything into a container."

"People felt that it would’ve been a little more difficult for them, said Denise McNair, Berlin Town Manager. "I think people feared the unknown more than anything."

The vote means Berlin has to start a new bidding process to find a company that collects manually.

It also has to deal with the its old company, Trash Away which already spent close to a million dollars to transition to automated. The company bought new cans and new trucks.

"They’re investing time and quite a bit of money as well," said Art Simonian, Berlin's Director of Public Works. "The containers have already been rolled out to some of the residents. They’ve already faced that cost and have to deal with that."

Berlin will use the new system until town council decides whether or not to uphold the referendum. If it sides with residents, officials plan to revert to the old system later this summer. Town Council is set to meet Thursday.

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