In its first two months of operation, Raymond’s new bulky waste policy has saved the town a lot of money, although some residents question the new program.

Figures for the month of July show that in 2005, Raymond spent 70 percent less on the town’s bulky waste disposal than in the same month last year. And August’s stats are even higher – the town spent only 27 percent of last year’s amount, 73 percent less than last year.

The new system uses a ticket booklet, sold for five dollars to Raymond residents. Each of the 50 coupons allows users to dump 20 pounds each, for a total of 1,000 pounds a year.

When ticket booklet holders wish to dispose of bulky waste items, they may take them to the Casco-Naples Bulky Waste facility on Leach Hill Road in Casco. They are then charged in tickets for the number of pounds they bring in.

According to Raymond Town Clerk Louise Lester, Raymond chose to institute the new system to save the town money by trying to cut down on those who have abused the policy in the past.

Under the old rules, any Raymond resident could dispose of almost unlimited trash by asserting it was residential. Because of this, some contractors and others were disposing commercial bulky waste.

“We knew there was a lot of commercial stuff going in there,” Lester said. “We’ve billed people in the past.”

Although she and Town Manager Don Willard are encouraged by the success of the program, not all of Raymond’s residents share their enthusiasm.

Sandi Severn of King’s Grant Road doesn’t like the policy change and the reasons she heard from town officials that a handful of abusers were causing high removal costs.

“So why couldn’t the town address the known abusers?” asked Severn.

But tracking down the culprits takes more time than Lester as town clerk is able to give and the town is willing to pay for. With the ticket method, commercial or illegal dumping is practically eliminated, ultimately reducing the town’s cost.

Severn also questioned why the new program wasn’t advertised or discussed at town meeting.

According to Lester, the decision to change the policy was made by selectmen and the budget committee when they cut the budget amount for bulky waste from $158,000 to $100,000. She added that people were welcomed and encouraged to attend these meetings and that these decisions must be made before Annual Town Meeting – “Town Meeting is the end of the line,” she said.

The town decided to allow 1,000 pounds per residence after looking at previous years’ records of the average number of people who used the site and the amount that was dumped.

Eric Hanscom, manager of the Casco-Naples Bulky Waste facility thinks the coupon system is a good idea and predicts that all towns will be adopting a similar system in the next few years.

Severn also questioned some of the mechanics of the new program. She wondered if items she wishes to donate to the resale store at the facility are charged against her 1,000-pound limit.

According to Hanscom, these donated items do figure into the total. He said that two-thirds of the store’s items do not sell and pointed out that they are all donated by people whose ultimate goal is to get rid of them.

Another of Severn’s criticisms involved the 20-pound tickets themselves. She wondered if the weight were just over 20 pounds, would she have to give two tickets instead of one.

Hanscom had an answer for that, too. Since the scales measure in 20-pound increments, any figure in between would be rounded up or down accordingly.

Lester acknowledged that, as in anything new, there are still kinks to be worked out. She said she would like to have more input from residents.

“If you don’t like what’s happening,” she said, “then get involved. Tell the selectmen what you want.”

But she believes some of the problems may be because residents don’t understand all the rules.

For example, it is important for people to sort their items and bring them in separate loads. If they are dumping metal, car batteries, or motor oil, there is no cost. But they must be brought in a separate trip so their weight is not included with the other items being thrown away.

If residents run out of tickets, they may continue to use the bulky waste facility if they have a Raymond dump sticker, but they will be charged at a rate of 2.5 cents per pound for brush and round wood and 5 cents per pound for most everything else.

While some communities provide spring or fall clean-up week, with free, curbside pickup of bulky waste items, Lester said Raymond does not currently have the manpower to offer this service. She recognizes the value in such a service and says the possibility wouldn’t be ruled out in the future.

But for now, Raymond residents must buy their ticket booklets to rid their homes of unwanted bulky waste.

Although Severn has some problems with the new program, she believes the selectmen had good objectives.

“I do think the budget committee and the selectmen were trying very hard to get the best deal for the taxpayers.” Severn said.

And Lester just wants to carry out the will of Raymond’s residents.

“We’ll have it any way they want it,” she said, “as long as they want to pay for it.”

Melody Clark of Raymond and Chad Lesley of Casco bring a full load of brush to the Casco Naples Bulky Waste facility on Leach Hill Road in Casco. Some Raymond residents feel the 1,000-pound bulky waste limit is too low.

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