Outrage over trash plan prompts town to reevaluate

Feb 3, 2021

Facing an onslaught of calls, backlash online and several members of the public who voiced frustrations at the Feb. 2 Board of Selectmen’s Meeting, the town will reevaluate its new trash plan to see if the cost can be reduced for some individuals.

In the coming days, Town Administrator Derek Sullivan will look at ways the trash plan can be reconfigured to allow some groups — namely seniors, seasonal residents or those with other means of trash disposal — to receive discounts or special arrangements. 

Sullivan explained that during negotiations with the curbside hauler, the town will save $125,000 in the first year, and the Selectmen asked him to propose different approaches for what to do with the savings.

Among the options discussed: a senior discount and a $10 discount on curbside pickup for everyone.

Under the new trash plan — made necessary after the long-standing free waste disposal deal arranged as part of a waste district with Marion and Carver came to an end last year — residents can now choose to pay for transfer station stickers or the town’s curbside pick-up.

Transfer station stickers cost $125 for the first vehicle and $60 for an additional vehicle. The yearly price for curbside pick-up will be $365 through the town.

Residents expressed the most frustration at being forced to pay for services they did not intend to use. A resident named Tabitha explained that her family owns a business and disposes of trash in the on-site dumpster. 

“Now we’re being asked to choose between trash pick-up we don’t need as well as a transfer station sticker that we’re not going to use,” she said. 

She pointed out that only those in town who are connected to and use the town sewer pay a sewer bill and suggested trash services should be the same.

Bill Tyndal, a resident who recently bought a Swifts Beach that he uses on the weekends, also said he has no need for Wareham’s trash services. He pays for bags in Worcester and takes his trash home to dispose of it there, he explained.

In a Zoom chat comment Tyndal said he felt the plan was “almost strong arming citizens.”

Selectman Peter Teitelbaum said one of the options being considered was a potential opt-out of curbside pick-up for those with other means of trash disposal. But he made no promises.

The Selectmen seemed most receptive to the idea of a price reduction for seniors without the means to pay for new programs.

“You could have a senior with a seven-figure income, who really doesn’t need help at all, said Selectman Alan Slavin. “Then you have another senior that’s barely getting by.”

Adjusting the service should be income qualified rather than just age qualified, Selectmen Jim Munise said.

Selectman Patrick Tropeano said he was in favor of helping seniors. But he was less receptive to seasonal residents’ complaints.

“It’s not our fault that they have the house there all year round and they don’t use it. We didn’t plan for that. They did because we happen to be a beachfront community,” Tropeano said. He said if this were on a tax bill, everyone would pay for it. “It’s kind of a catch-22 with those folks.” 

He added that some people rent their seasonal homes, even in the winter.

Sullivan said the deadline to opt-out of curbside pick-up — originally set for Monday, Feb. 8 — would likely be extended for slightly less than a week, as some people received their notice letters later than others. 

He said the deadline is in February because the trash company needs time to distribute bins and configure routes for trash pickup in Wareham. Curbside pick-up will start April 1.