KENNEBUNK — One of the more interesting warrants that will be on the town meeting ballot on June 14 is the state of the Pay as You Throw program.

It is not that PAYT is unsuccessful or not cost-effective – nor are the participation numbers down – but the idea of changing how residents throw away their trash was broached, and subsequently has made the ballot.

The way the PAYT program currently works is that a trash bag costs $3 to purchase and you pay for each one you need, throwing them in your barrel to be picked up curbside. Recyclable materials are also collected at no cost.

The proposed change would see the town inherit the annual estimated $435,000 to pick up the trash, but residents would incur a 23-cent tax increase (per $1,000 assessed) to offset the cost.

PAYT was instituted nationwide as a tool to get people to recycle more. The thought was that if you have to pay for trash bags and recycling is free, you would be more apt to separate your trash from recyclables, because it won’t cost you to throw away.

Kennebunk officials still hope residents will recycle as much as they have been if the PAYT change is voted down.

Town Manager Barry Tibbetts said that there is no right or wrong answer for voters. He said it depends on each resident, contingent on how much they throw away and recycle, and whether they want to pay now (for each bag) or later (when they pay taxes).

“I guess the vote depends on how much trash (one) generates and how much you recycle,” Tibbetts said. “If you buy a lot of bags, you may look at (the program) and decide it is better to pay more in taxes. Each individual has to figure out what is best for them.”

As the program stands now, if you buy five bags per week at $3 per bag, it costs about $750 per year. The tax increase for a $300,000 home would be around $63 more per year.

Tibbetts did not want to predict the outcome.

“Not everyone is going to win, but the majority will win,” he said. “I think it will be close, but I just don’t know how it will end up.”

Other warrants of note are:

• Plastic bag ban – What was originally a fourth-grader’s hope of doing away with “single-use” plastic bags was retooled, and is now being presented as a total ban on plastic bags with handles that are less than 3 millimeters thick.

• Road work – A bond issue for $2.1 million would go toward paving, reconstruction, drainage and minor bridge work.

• New positions – The Town Council unanimously voted to include four new positions on the ballot; two fire lieutenants, an employee in the IT department, and a public services truck driver.

“Our budget is pretty standard,” Tibbetts said. “We added a couple new positions, but only after lengthy discussions, and decided unanimously.”

The first hearing on the town budget was March 22, with the second scheduled for May 24.


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