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Pittsfield's Latest Trash Proposal Heads to Full Council
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
02:58AM / Tuesday, May 07, 2019
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The Ordinance and Rules Committee approved a trash proposal after months of discussion.


Ordinance and Rules Committee Chairman Peter White said he will be reviewing the city's current contract with the trash hauler before the next council meeting to help iron out a final detail the subcommittee struggled to come to terms on.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Trash talk is expected to return to the City Council.
 
On Monday, the Ordinance and Rules Committee completed a massive review of the city's trash collection ordinance.
 
The new proposal would limit the amount of trash a resident can throw away to 64 gallons per week. However, the committee was unable to determine a method of enforcing such rule.
 
"I think anecdotally, how you would got about it is two, 32-gallon barrels would be the norm," said Councilor John Krol. "It is not perfect but at least we are limiting trash, which was the goal all along."
 
The plan was approved 4-1 with Councilor Nicholas Caccamo being the dissenting vote because of that lack of enforcement.
 
The ordinance would replace the city's current ordinance that requires trash to be kept in 32-gallon barrels, but without enforcement that restriction has been ignored for years. Caccamo said the lack of enforcement makes the new rules as effective as the old ones.
 
"That is a huge step but if we don't establish how we are going to regulate that, then it goes back to where we were," Caccamo said.
 
Overall the petition also makes a number of changes but nothing as substantial as the limits to the trash. The petition had been a long time coming following the council shooting down Mayor Linda Tyer's proposal for a toter system. Then Councilors Caccamo and Kevin Morandi both submitted petitions to review the ordinance. The subcommittee took on both petitions, took petitions from other cities,and ultimately took pieces from various aspects and pieced it together.
 
In the end, it is Morandi's petition being voted on, but it had essentially been merged with work Caccamo had done on his. 
 
Another key piece of the ordinance is that it does not place much for restrictions as to what types of bins are used. The requirement is that the trash is secured and not weigh more than 50 lbs. but doesn't require any specific type of bin nor any specific sizes. The ordinance specifically allows bags to be placed on the curb provided there are no rips or tears and is tied.
 
The lack of restrictions is where the subcommittee's petition drastically differs from Tyer's previous plan. The mayor had put forth the idea of providing every household with a 45-gallon container for trash and only those would be collected each week. Tyer's plan was eyed to reduce trash and increase recycling -- thus lowering the city's cost to dispose of trash -- and reduce trash being strewn about the street.
 
However, one of the council's major holdups with that plan was concern that the toters would be too difficult for residents to handle and that it came with an overhead cost to the city to purchase the bins.
 
Krol argued for a modified pay-as-you-throw bag program in which the city would sell specific bags for collection while still restricting trash. But there was little taste for that among the councilors. They ultimately agreed without introducing new programs but rather wordsmithing the current ordinance.
 
The voted-on ordinance does not include a condition previously discussed that residents keep their bins behind the house and at no more than two places on a property. That was removed by a motion from Councilor Melissa Mazzeo on Monday who felt that was too restrictive as many may keep the bins on the side of a house instead.
 
"I think we need to not be so limited in our scope that we aren't allowing our citizens to use their own good sense," said Councilor Donna Todd Rivers.
 
The final hold up among the subcommittee members was a line calling for damaged bins that could hurt the trash collectors be replaced promptly. Mazzeo felt that language should be softer for instances when bins are damaged by the trash hauler themselves and residents are working on a claim.
 
Krol said there should be some standards to ensure the bins aren't posing a danger.
 
"That's why we have all the verbiage previous about what containers are suitable or not suitable," Krol said.
 
Eventually, the subcommittee voted in favor of language calling for the bins to be taken out of service and that the city will replace bins damaged by hauler -- Krol compared it to the way the city handles mailboxes damaged by subcontractors and said it become a management issue among the city and the contracted hauler.
 
Subcommittee Chairman Peter White said he'd review the current contract with the hauler before the next council meeting to iron out that language if needed.
 
In the end, the ordinance is hoped to reduce the amount of trash the city pays to haul away. But it isn't as strong as previously discussed options.
 
"Perfection is the enemy of progress in this case," Krol said about the multi-year discussion on the ordinance.
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