Garbage bag tag prices to rise under new Waste Management contract; council finalizes budget schedule

The cost of bag tags within Greater Napanee will rise to $6 over the next 10 years. Photo by Adam Prudhomme.

Adam Prudhomme

A fair amount of trash talk took place in Greater Napanee’s council chambers on Tuesday night-specifically about what direction to give staff as they prepare to negotiate a 10-year curb side collection contract with Waste Management.

Presented with four options, deputy mayor Max Kaiser successfully put forward ‘Option #3’, which is essentially the same waste collection service the town has now, but with a rise in the cost of bag tags.

Under the current collection contract-which is considered to be performed at a cost extremely below market value in the town’s favour-bag tags are sold for $2 and generate $396,100 for the town. If the town went with contract Option #3, which would kick in Jan. 1, 2020, curb side collection coupled with biweekly recycling would cost the town $1,182,635 a year-roughly $786,535 more than the town would generate at $2 a bag.

That’s why Kaiser included in his motion a ‘sliding scale’ for bag tags, starting with $3 and climbing up to $6 over the next decade. At $6 a bag, full cost recovery would be realized. Until costs are recovered through bag tags, the remaining balance would be collected through taxes. A quick estimate done at the council meeting by treasurer Paul Dowber pegged the costs to be about $80-$85 per household under the $3 a bag pricing.

“I have to admit that I’m not really happy with any of them,” councillor Terry Richardson said of the options, which included automated collection with the town sourcing carts and the recycling facility or a five per cent increase per year in the final nine years of the contract. “That’s probably going to the consensus in the room. An increase of $700,000 to get rid of garbage over the next 10 years is probably fairly steep….I look at (Option #3) as the least of all the evils.”

Automated pick up, where residents are supplied with two carts on wheels, was deemed impractical due to Greater Napanee’s many rural routes. It would also mean a flat rate charge for all residents, which would offer little incentive to recycle and might be deemed unfair by residents who put out fewer bags than their neighbours.

“I would be cautious about raising the bag tag costs very much, very quickly,” said Kaiser, noting that he notices an increase in the amount of garbage dumped on his property whenever bag tag prices are increased. “I realize that places a larger burden on the taxpayer in total.”

“In the last few years we’ve seen well below market prices for garbage disposal,” said Kaiser. “This is it coming back to bare on us now. It’s a reality. It’s not something we should be surprised by, we all knew it was coming.”

Council passed the motion and authorized staff to negotiate the 10-year contract with Waste Management.

-Council voted to adopt its 2020 budget schedule. Utilities, tax rate comparisons and fleet rationalization will be discussed Dec. 19 from 6-9 p.m. Budget talks will resume in the new year with the assessment update, operating budget and capital budget debated Jan. 23 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with the assessment update, operating budget and capital budget examined Feb 20 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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