2015-01-22 / Front Page

Trash Ordinance Vetted

By Barry Bridges

Large families or households that produce a lot of trash may want to keep the date of Feb. 1 in mind. That’s when Newporters will begin to incur annual charges for additional waste or recycling carts over and above the one per household already provided by the city.

This information was shared in response to questions posed by Third Ward representative Kathryn Leonard at the city council’s meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 14. Councilors were asked to approve amendments to the municipal ordinances for consistency with the five-year solid waste and recycling contract that was awarded to Waste Management last year. This gave them another opportunity to review the new solid waste provisions, and Leonard requested clarifications on fees and bulky materials.

“I have issues with this,” she said. “The public has a right to know what they’re paying for and what the fees are, and I have questions that I really think need to be vetted.”

She focused on larger families who may need more than one trash receptacle. Examining the ordinance language, she asked, “We have made accommodations for additional bins, but will families now be charged for these?”

Interim City Manager Joseph Nicholson explained, “We have been providing extra sets of bins for larger families, and they will be gratis, no charge, until Feb. 1. At that point, we will allow them to rent those from us. The charge for the trash cart is $250 per annum.” Overflow trash bags will be available at retailers for $2.40 each, while additional recycling containers from the city will be $60 per year.

In light of the discussion, the vote on the ordinance changes was continued until Jan. 28 to allow Nicholson and Director of Public Services Bill Riccio to more fully respond.

But Riccio pointed out that recycling has already improved under the contract. “The rate is up from 24 percent to 33 percent, and there has been a 25 percent reduction in trash. The results are stronger than what we had initially hoped.”

Mayor Jeanne-Marie Napolitano confirmed that the contract is already showing its value, even though some details are still being ironed out. “Recycling is up, and we expect that increase to continue,” she told Newport This Week. “That keeps our landfill tipping fees in line, so this ultimately affects the taxpayer. That point is sometimes easy to miss. Everyone would be paying more if we didn’t make these solid waste changes through the new contract."

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