South Windsor residents could soon have to pay to get rid of their garbage.
"We just can’t keep burning trash because we’re just polluting the air even more. So we’ve got to find ways to recycle more," said Deputy Mayor Andrew Paterna.
The proposal is to charge residents for each bag of garbage they put out. Leaders who support the move said it would benefit the environment and the town’s bank account.
"I think it’s the wave of the future, I think the state of Connecticut is essentially signaling to us that this is the direction we’re moving in," Paterna said.
This week the town council heard a proposal for SMART – Save Money and Reduce Trash – from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. The "Pay as you Throw" program would charge residents roughly $2 per trash bag collected by the town, theoretically incentivizing them to throw out less.
"Yes, it’s good to save the environment. I can kind of see where they’re coming from with that," said resident Hayley Moquin.
Both Stonington and Mansfield currently have the program, with another 11 or so towns considering it, according to DEEP. South Windsor estimates SMART could reduce its garbage output by 44 percent. But environment aside, some residents say like so many other government charges in Connecticut, the proposed fee amounts to a new tax they don’t want to pay.
"I think I’m paying enough for property tax. For me to be paying extra for my garbage, I don’t think that’s something I would really want to do," said Paulette Grant.
"I definitely don’t think we should be charged. We are paying a lot of town tax right now. That should really take care of it," argued Renus Bachhani.
The deputy mayor said he understands those concerns, but wants to push forward on the idea, and find residents some relief as the program works.
"If people are recycling and we’re saving money, maybe there’s a rebate that goes back to the citizens," Paterna said.
There will be a public hearing on this in January. The council will work with the Department of Public Works to establish a plan before another round of hearings.
There’s also the possibility of testing a pilot program with a small group of residents before rolling out town wide.