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Latest Proposal Calls For Pittsfield to Limit Trash to 64 Gallons
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
01:11AM / Tuesday, April 02, 2019
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Councilor Kevin Morandi says the city could save money by restricting the amount of trash.


The Ordinance and Rules Committee approves a couple of changes to the ordinance on Monday and will wait for a new draft before going further.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — In the latest trash proposal, the City Council wants to restrict the amount of trash residents can throw away but don't want to restrict how it is placed at the curb.
 
The Ordinance and Rules Committee continued its review of the trash ordinance Monday night and the newest amendments would restrict residents to 64 gallons of trash per week.
 
However, unlike the mayor's earlier proposal, the councilors don't want to tell people how to place it on the curb just that it is secured.
 
Two years ago Mayor Linda Tyer had put forth a proposal to restrict the amount of trash residents throw away to 45 gallons. Her plan called for the city to purchase toters for every household. The toters would ensure that trash is secured with a lid so it doesn't get strewn about, would streamline the collection for the trash haulers by moving to automated arms on the trucks to lift the bins, and, overall, was intended to reduce the amount city pays for disposal and increase recycling.
 
The City Council, however, rejected the mayor's plan. Two petitions followed that rejection — one by Councilor Nicholas Caccamo and one by Councilor Kevin Morandi — to address the collection ordinance. Each petition has now been debated multiple times at the Ordinance and Rules Committee level and the councilors are narrowing in on one, clean proposal to bring back to the full council.
 
Morandi believes that the city needs to reduce the cost of trash collection and pushed the idea of limiting the amount a resident can throw away in a given week. 
 
"I think we should limit trash," Morandi said, and later added, "if we don't do that we are going to see what we see now. It is not going to change and is not going to reduce our cost."
 
The toters were hotly debated throughout the city at the time and apparently the take away among the councilors isn't one of dislike for limiting the amount of trash but rather distaste for the toters. So, the Ordinance and Rules are proposing only limited restrictions on how those 64 gallons are brought to the curb. 
 
On Monday, the councilors opted to choose language that requires the trash to be "secured" and said residents will still have the ability to place a single bag on the curb as long as it is tied. Essentially, taking on the idea of "box, bundle, barrel, bag," as the guiding principles. The containers must also weigh less than 50 pounds.
 
The discussion Monday focused mostly on that aspect of the collection. Morandi pitched the requiring the trash to be in bins with a cover — which is what the city's current ordinance reads — but also providing a waiver system for those who may just want to place a single bag at the curb.
 
"We heard loud and clear during the toter proposal that trash was being strewn all over the place," Morandi said. "We need to do everything in our power to keep our city clean."
 
Yet, the details of the waiver program hadn't been there. Meanwhile, Councilor Melissa Mazzeo questioned various aspects of requiring bins such as the ethics of forcing residents to buy new ones when they are damaged or times when there are larger items that may not fit in the bin with the lid shut.
 
"Whenever we do these things it always seems like the person who gets hurt in the end is the person who has been following the rules from the start," Mazzeo said, urging her fellow councilors to be nimble with the language to provide residents with the most options.
 
Councilor Donna Todd Rivers also voiced concern about the city being overly restrictive. She added that if the city gets too far into the weeds on the language then what ultimately would come out would be difficult for residents and difficult for the trash collectors to determine whether or not something should be picked up.
 
"I just want us to be careful," Rivers said.
 
Councilor John Krol said if the city is opening the possibility of leaving bags out there, then he isn't sure if a waiver system is needed. 
 
Krol had previously pushed a pay-as-you-throw program that used bags to restrict the amount of trash residents can throw away. That idea is that residents can buy a certain number of bags at cost and any overage then comes with a premium. It would not have included toters, and thus would not come with the estimated cost to purchase them for every household.
 
The question over the language continued until eventually, the councilors opted to get the "spirit" of what they are trying to accomplish together and then have the city solicitor craft the language to support that. At the end of the meeting, the committee sent the petition to the solicitor and will receive a clean draft at its next meeting.
 
Health Director Gina Armstrong also proposed a few minor changes to the ordinance that were just about all accepted except for changing the enforcement responsibility from the "Health Department" to the "Board  of Health." The Health Department operates under the direction of the Board of Health, hence Armstrong and the city solicitor felt referring it to the Board of Health was appropriate. 
 
However, Mazzeo doesn't want the Board of Health to be involved — a common issue Mazzeo has had because the Board of Health is autonomous — saying it is a city ordinance and that the city's staff are the ones enforcing it. Essentially, she doesn't want to relinquish control to the Board of Health. The council just agreed to leave the issue alone rather than debate the nuisances.
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