| G. Michael Dobbs
SPRINGFIELD – At a City Council committee meeting to give the public the opportunity to comment on a proposed increase in the fee to pick up bulk items, Department of Public Works Superintendent Chris Cignoli also spoke of a possible revision to the city’s solid waste and recycling programs.
Speaking at the meeting conducted at Faith Church on Aug. 17, Cignoli said that within four to eight months his department would be making a presentation for a graduated bin program, which would allow household to have smaller garbage bins with a smaller trash fee.
The program would also be designed to increase recycling efforts.
Cignoli said two circumstances are propelling the planning for a new system. The first is the room in the city’s landfill is decreasing. The city uses the landfill to bury the ashes from its incinerator and currently the landfill on Bondi’s Island would be closed in either 2023 or 2024. The city is trying to obtain an extension to 2030.
The second is the city will have to buy new trash barrels for residents in a year.
Cignoli said with the advent of single stream recycling which eliminated the need for separating paper from plastic, metal and glass, recycling has increased in the city. He believes with smaller trash barrels more recycling would take place. The city does not have to pay for the disposal of recyclable material.
If implemented there would be weekly recycling as well as trash pickup. The older green trash bins would then be used for yard waste. Residents who generate more trash, due to a special event, for instance, could buy city-approved bags to dispose of the overflow, something Cignoli noted they could do now.
Cignoli explained the bulk pickup fee for items ranging from appliances to furniture have been $8 per item for the past decade or so. The increase is necessary from a budgeting point of view.
He noted the garbage disposal budget has grown in a year from $8.5 million to $8.9 million.
The city picks up annually between 900 to 1,000 tons of bulks items, Cignoli added.
By increasing the bulk pickup fee by $2 per item, Cignoli said that would aid the city to help offset the increase increases in disposal.
Cignoli noted the city does not profit from recycling, but doesn’t pay to have those items properly disposed.
He also acknowledged that illegal dumping is still happening in the city and might increase “a little bit” with the $2 increase.
He stressed, “If we don’t get an increase to offset expenses we’ll go into the red and then will go before to City Council [to ask for more funding],” Cignoli said.
Along with Committee Chair Kateri Walsh, Councilors Melvin Edwards and Justin Hurst attended the meeting along with four residents, all of who expressed concerns about an increase of the bulk rate.
One resident suggested increasing the trash fee for everyone in the city in order to eliminate the bulk fee, while another remarked she should not be made responsible through an increased trash fee to pay for someone’s bulk pickup.
Walsh said all of the comments would be included in a report given to the full council for a vote on the increase in September.