Monday, April 11, 2005

Trash Sticker Fees - New Revenue Opportunity

In 1999 Milton closed its landfill and was faced with a new cost to dispose of solid waste. That cost amounted to approximately $750,000 in the first year, and we were faced with the problem of how to fund this new expense. The Board of Selectmen offered residents a choice between an override or a “Pay as you throw” trash sticker program to pay for some of these new costs. The residents opted for a trash sticker program.

The sticker price was originally $1.50, and has been raised once since then, to $2.00. The last increase was for the fiscal year 2001, I believe. Since that time the fees have raised approximately $700,000-$725,000 annually. During the same period of time the cost for solid waste disposal has risen to over $1 million per year. This means that more than $300,000 a year which could otherwise be allocated to town services must be used to fund the difference between what is raised and what the program costs.

This deficit lead the Warrant Committee to twice recommend to the Board of Selectmen the raising of sticker fees to close the gap during a period when revenue was desperately needed and when the cost of solid waste disposal was likely to continue to increase. We continue to be desperate today.

Last year a member of the Warrant Committee conducted a survey of 13 South Shore cities and Towns who offer curbside pickup. Five of these towns incorporate the cost into their budgets, while 8 communities have a fee program. The fees ranged from $50-$310 per year, with an average of $185.

An increase in Milton’s sticker price from $2 to $3 would bring the annual cost to $156 for families whose weekly trash didn’t exceed a single trash can. Based on the average ticket sales for FY2002 and FY2003, this would generate an additional $345,000.

This amount of revenue would close the gap between the fee revenue and the program cost, and free up $345,000 to aid a school system in desperate need of the money.

I’ve been told that a suggestion to discuss a fee increase was raised at the last Selectmen’s meeting. I hope that’s the case.