In February, Mayor Christenson submitted to the City Council a proposal to modernize the solid waste program. Ever since the City introduced the Pay as you Throw (PAYT) system in 2008 under then Mayor Richard Howard, residents have sought changes to make the program more convenient for residents while maintaining the positive benefits that came with the change.
“When PAYT was implemented, the City’s recycling rate skyrocketed and tonnage for trash disposal decreased dramatically,” commented Mayor Gary Christenson. “This has resulted in huge savings for our taxpayers, particularly as solid waste charges continued to increase while the recycling markets fell apart. The days of unlimited trash disposal are unfortunately over. But we have heard loud and clear that our residents want an alternative.”
Over the summer, the City of Malden held several resident meetings with feedback. In addition to feedback from residents hoping for alternatives to buying blue bags, the City also heard from just as many residents who support the current system, as it allows them to realize the savings from their reduced trash production. “We looked at going to a flat rate system like you see in many communities, such as Melrose. Under such a system, a two-family home pays $400 per year for trash services. But we heard from many residents who currently can limit their trash production where they are spending 25% of that amount. We therefore refocused efforts on a system that would appeal to a diverse resident base, many of whom have already embraced the concept of trash reduction,” said Christenson. In response, the Mayor has proposed a program where residents have the option to pay an annual trash disposal fee or continue to purchase the PAYT bags.
Under the Mayor’s proposal, each qualifying residential unit would receive two City of Malden issued 35-gallon, commercial quality, covered toters. One would be for recycling, and an added benefit is that residents would no longer need to separate recycling. The second would be for trash. Residents would have the option to continue to utilize the PAYT bags in those receptacles, or to purchase an annual tag for the barrel, therefore allowing them to fill it weekly with typical consumer trash bags. “This system first and foremost gives our residents options,” commented Christenson. “Even for the resident who chooses to continue with the PAYT bags, by providing a barrel to contain the trash, we will have succeeded in keeping our streets cleaner and helping to contain rodents and other unwanted animals from getting into the trash.” Under the Mayor’s proposal, residents could purchase additional barrels and tags to help meet their trash and recycling needs.
The Mayor has submitted a request for a $1.2 million appropriation to the City Council to fund the barrel purchase to move this initiative forward. “When COVID-19 hit, we paused to see what the state would do with local aid. While the financial future remains challenging, this is something we know our residents want and we have therefore prioritized it, even given among the uncertainty,” commented Christenson.
The above article appeared in the Advocate and was written by Steve Freker.