New London is considering a pay-as-you-throw program for residents' trash removal.
City leaders are calling a Save Money and Reduce Trash (SMART) Waste Management Strategy a way for people to pay for what they use, like they do with electricity, water or gas. In this case, residents and business would pay per bag of trash by purchasing an official New London trash bag.
The owner of Fisher Florist, George Fisher, is concerned he’ll have to pay more if a SMART program is implemented.
"I can see my store paying $60 to $70 a week in extra cost," Fisher said.
Fisher said he can fill three to four of the city’s big green trash bins twice a week.
"I know what my taxes are. They’re not inexpensive. I don’t complain because I do get fire, police and garbage pickup," Fisher said.
The idea is to provide an incentive to reduce trash and increase recycling. New London Mayor Michael Passero called it a way to preserve curbside pickup without increasing taxes.
Right now people "are paying for other people’s irresponsibility," Passero said.
DEEP is working with a company called WasteZero and they crunched numbers that said the city currently spends about $2.25 million on solid waste disposal. With a SMART program in place, they said the city could save up to $700,000 a year by lessening solid waste disposal and from bag revenue.
The money saved would be used toward other expenses the city has, according to Passero.
A 33-gallon bag would cost $1.00.
Every user that has curbside pickup would have to pay. Passero said 40 percent of properties in New London are tax exempt.
"That’s the beauty of the system. We’re talking about schools, firehouses, every tax-exempt property," Passero said.
WasteZero data showed the average household in New London spends about $247 on waste. With a SMART program, WasteZero estimates that household only spending $211, which equals the total price of taxes and the purchase of the official New London trash bags.
"I’m a little iffy on it," said New London resident Melissa Couture. She wants to hear more about it before making up her mind, adding the current process in place isn’t maintained.
Frank McLaughlin’s company owns 55 rental units in New London and he's worried about where the responsibility falls if tenants don’t comply.
"Obviously, the easy target is the landlord," McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin wants to see the city explore other alternatives.
New London was awarded more than $50,000 in grants from DEEP. Passero said the city council will have to consider approving the use of the grant funds so New London can further explore and design a program specific to New London.