Mashpee Selectmen Hear From Residents on Pay As You Throw

recyclingMASHPEE -Mashpee residents turned out last night in large numbers to comment on the issue of trash.

Mashpee Selectmen held a public hearing at Mashpee High School on the topic, after citizens complained that they were not properly notified of a vote taken last month to start a pay as you throw trash system in Mashpee.

Selectmen say the purpose of the new system is to save the town money by encouraging recycling.

The new system–in which residents would pay for special bags that would be used to dispose of trash–is designed to ensure those who throw away less are also charged less by the town.

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Selectmen put the matter on their agenda as a discussion of SMART (Saving Money and Reducing Trash), another name for the pay as you throw system. But several complained they were not familiar with the acronym as being another name for pay as you throw.

In response to the complaints, including an official open meeting law violation that one resident filed, selectmen rescinded the vote and scheduled last night’s hearing.

Town officials say that on January 1, trash disposal costs will increase by 45 percent. The reason selectmen want to encourage recycling is that disposing of recycling materials has little to no cost.

The new system, selectmen say, will reduce trash by 30 to 45 percent, leading to disposal cost reductions of over $90,000 each year.

Among those speaking last night were people in favor of the new system.

“If you follow the simple environmental mantra of reduce, reuse and recycle, then you will pay less for trash. It’s as simple as that,” said Michael Talbot, who is president of the Mashpee Environmental Coalition.

One of the residents to comment against the proposal was David Poole.

“The only thing this is going to benefit is the people that are summer residents because they can pay for only a few bags and it might benefit some of the elderly people but people with children in school are going to be hit hard,” he said. People speaking against pay as you throw were in the majority at the meeting.

But there were also people on the other side.

Mashpee resident Richard Elrick said, “There’s a reason why this program’s being adopted. It’s because it works. It appeals greatly to those of us on the left like me who are tree-huggers and want to reduce trash and want to recycle and it should appeal to conservatives, people who support the mantra of personal responsibility and say we ought to be responsible.”

Mashpee voters have twice turned down non-binding referendums on the issue of switching to pay as you throw.