TOWNSEND -- By reducing the amount of trash hauled from each household, Townsend taxpayers could save as much as $87,500 yearly according to the town's current trash hauler.
Limiting curbside pickup to 64 gallons per week for each household would reduce the amount of solid waste by 33 percent, Glen Shaw of G.W. Shaw and Son Waste Disposal and Recycling told the Board of Health Sept. 13.
The $625,000 trash contract for fiscal year 2013 was approved at the spring town meeting. On August 28, the town did not approve a school override of $417,000 and must raise the money within the current budget.
Every town department was asked to provide a revised budget with cuts to Town Administrator Andy Sheehan on Sept. 14. The trash contract is the largest part of the budget for the Board of Health.
Under Shaw's proposal, each household would receive a 64-gallon wheeled toter that would be picked up weekly. Currently, Townsend limits weekly pickup to 96 gallons.
The amount of trash allowed per household would eventually decrease to 64 gallons. Shaw's proposal speeds up the time line set by the board, said Health Administrator Carla Walter.
Families with larger amounts of trash could purchase bags to cover the cost of the excess rubbish. Shaw's would only haul trash in the bins or the town bags.
Recycling would be picked up each week, instead of every other week as it is now. The amount of recycling would not be limited.
Paying $2.50 a bag to dispose of recyclables as trash will not be a good option for most people. Instead they can choose to use free curbside recycling, Chairman Chris Genoter said.
"If there's a financial incentive, people will find they can probably fit their trash in a 64-gallon container," he said.
"You can't make them recycle. (Purchasing additional bags) will hurt their pockets a little bit if they don't want to," Shaw said.
If the town opts to purchase toters through Shaw's, the hauler will require a long-term contract or reimbursement for the bins if the contract is not renewed, Shaw said. He based his estimates on a five-year payoff for the barrels.
"Those toters aren't cheap," he said. They cost between $42 and $44 each, plus shipping. The total investment for 4,000 bins will be $183,000.
The new proposal will cost each household under $12 per month in taxes, Shaw said. If the town did away with curbside pickup completely, householders could expect to pay a private hauler about $35 monthly to remove trash.
Shaw suggested beginning the new program July 1, if the board decides that is the best option.
At the board's request he will research how long it takes to get the bins and the cost for having an identification chip in each bin to reduce theft.
Genoter said he would like feedback from other communities on how well similar programs have worked.
The board will meet in about three weeks after they have more information.
"I don't think the board has to be hasty," Sheehan said.
"Once we get the toters, we're bound to the toters for awhile. The board may want to chew it over," he said.
"I'd like to do a little more analysis," he said.