DON ADAMS OF WOOLWICH speaks at a selectboard meeting on Tuesday night. He said that he had a contact at the Public Health Research Institute who would be willing to speak to the town about other options besides PAYT “to promote recycling a lot better.”

DON ADAMS OF WOOLWICH speaks at a selectboard meeting on Tuesday night. He said that he had a contact at the Public Health Research Institute who would be willing to speak to the town about other options besides PAYT “to promote recycling a lot better.”

WOOLWICH

Approval of a petition that asks Woolwich residents to consider bringing back a pay-per-bag trash program was delayed on Tuesday night by the board of selectmen.

Last week, resident Ben Tipton submitted a petition for the town warrant, which requests that voters adopt a pay-per-bag plan and enter into a year-long contract with the lowest bidding company to administer the program.

Due to the contract the town had previously signed with company WasteZero to execute Pay As You Throw, Chairman David King said the petition would specifically need to mention WasteZero as the town’s future pay-per-bag administrator.

In October 2015, Joshua Kolling-Perin, director of public engagement at WasteZero, said the town would not be allowed to pursue a pay-per-bag program of any kind, even a town-run program, for a certain period of time if the town terminated its contract with the company.

After PAYT was implemented in September, the town canceled the contract with a 616-453 vote on the November ballot. The program officially ended in January.

King said the board would need to run the petition by town attorney Kristin Collins before it could be revisited.

Following the meeting, Selectwoman Allison Hepler said the selectboard could also offer “an alternative warrant article in addition to the petitioned one at Town Meeting to correct any issues with the wording” as it is not a secret ballot election. She noted that the board could not change the wording of what petitioners had signed.

Overall, the topic had generated some lengthy discussions on Tuesday.

Local resident Don Adams said that he had a contact at the Public Health Research Institute who would be willing to speak to the town about other options besides PAYT “to promote recycling a lot better.”

“The residents’ out-of-pocket expense has been $20,000 for five months,” he said. “If it had gone a year, it could have been more, and we could have been looking at close to $50,000 for the price of the bags.”

Like Adams, Perry Golden also questioned whether WasteZero’s five month statistics were “a representative sample of whether or not the system bears fruit,” especially since the program was carried out during non-summer months where trash could increase due to visitors to the area.

“I certainly believe recycling is good for the community, but I’m certainly not sure PAYT is the answer to solving that question for the town,” he said.

Golden was also concerned that the town government would accept Tipton’s petition “without letting a period of time elapse” since PAYT was revoked.

King clarified that if a petition is properly written with the right amount of signatures, the board “really (has) no choice but to accept.” The only exceptions are if a petition asks the selectboard to do something that is not legal, or if it does not give clear indication of what they want done, he said.

Other residents expressed support for the PAYT program.

“The facts are that over the five months we had that system of pay-per-bag the town saved substantial money,” said resident Charlie Durfee.

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LAST WEEK, Woolwich resident Ben Tipton submitted a petition for the town warrant, which requests that voters adopt a pay-per-bag plan and enter into a yearlong contract with the lowest bidding company to administer the program.


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