Pittsfield City Council to consider trash pickup alternatives

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PITTSFIELD — The City Council won't sit and wait for Mayor Linda Tyer to return with another tote-based trash pickup program.

They'll do their own research, councilors agreed this week.

The council voted unanimously to invite another hauler, Waste Zero, to give a presentation on a "pay-as-you-throw" program — it establishes charges for residents based on the amount of trash they put curbside — during its next meeting Feb. 27. Councilors said they'd like to explore alternatives to Tyer's tote-based trash pickup plan, which would relegate rubbish removal to 45-gallon and 96-gallon containers for trash and recycling, respectively.

Additional trash outside the 45 gallons would require residents to buy overflow bags from the city, which would cost $1 to $2.

Finance Director Matt Kerwood said Pittsfield and Richmond are the only municipalities in the Berkshires to provide public trash pickup at no additional costs. Tyer introduced the tote-based plan as a means to reduce trash and increase recycling, thereby reducing disposal costs, and to combat blight.

After weeks of debate, the City Council declined to vote on the issue last month, voting instead to refer the proposed ordinance back to Tyer for revision. The mayor said this month she'll consider possible amendments after hearing from residents during a series of neighborhood meetings that concluded Monday evening.

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Ward 1 Councilor Helen Moon, Ward 5 Councilor Donna Todd Rivers and Ward 6 Councilor John Krol brought forward the petition to investigate alternatives. They are not advocating for a "pay-as-you-throw" program at this point, they said, but are simply seeking information that could make decisions easier.

"I think it's worthwhile to at least examine this," Krol said, noting that haulers refer to the method as the most effective way to reduce trash and increase recycling. "I think this is the logical next step."

Rivers said she hopes to broaden the conversation.

"The citizens deserve to have all the options out there," she said.

Moon said she's unclear on whether it's more of a priority to reduce waste or reduce blight.

"I guess I'm getting kind of lost in the details," she said. "I'm confused about what the goals are now."

Reach Amanda Drane at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter or at 413-496-6296.


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