PAYT is Back

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PAYT is Back

Postby Dennis King » Sat Oct 16, 2010 9:19 am

Just when I thought it was safe,,, They bring me back in! Once again our town manager is pushing for PAYT as a way to make his job easier. He needs to cut the budget but instead of that, (making tough decisions is just too hard for him), no lets just add more FEES!

I was sickened to hear the TC "debate" on this, they acknowledge the town was nearly 100 percent in opposition but somehow they think things will change now? I recall Tom Mahon begging the audience to have someone who was for PAYT speak up. Findlay thinks it was because we put a sign in the TS but not at every condo in town. Let's make sure we market this as a "fairness" issue at the same time we take $600,000 of the cable taxpayers fees to redecorate the Town Managers office!

I was appalled to see this TC had learned nothing from the last time they tried to put PAYT forward. We now have single stream which is working much better and maybe with some public education, can do even a better job at it. Trouble is, the reason for doing this is not about fairness or reducing the trash (condos do not have to recycle if they chose not to, some don't have the choice). No, this was always about our pampered town manager who does not want to simply do his job!

The real problem was discussed at the TC meeting, PENSIONS!. Well the solution is simple, since the town employees insist on taking over a million dollars from the taxpayers more than they put into retirement (yup that is the state average in NH), well our only choice is to PRIVATIZE.

Oh I know it sounds scary but why not hire a company to take over DPW? Great place to start. Of course my favorite is Parks and Rec, give the duties over to the MYA, they can also do the easter egg hunt and pumpkin festival but we have so many other groups in town, I am sure many would love to do it.

We have hit the wall, since the state's answer to profile it courage is to require us to pay these ridiculous defined benefit pensions while at the same time, cutting back their contribution (35-25% is now rumored), we can no longer pick up the slack! People are loosing their homes! Now I am sure everyone who has the ability to volunteer to be on the TC must be in good financial shape themselves but I implore you to think of your neighbors or perhaps those of us who live in the smaller row houses as compared to the more estate like houses some of you have. Please do not let our TM blow smoke at you. This issue was resolved when we build the TS in the first place, we are all paying for the note on the facility and frankly, I find it disturbing that our town manager would rather open up these wounds to provide him with political cover. It is a cynical and craven act, I do hope you enjoy your new digs Keith, courtesy of us taxpayers. Yup, only the best for these workers who will take more than a million from each and every one of us in retirement. I knew we were in trouble when Dan (our so called conservative) had no problem raiding a fund from cable subscribers to then add other town hall renovations. Of this is the same Dan Dyer who jumped in with the rest saying, oh yes, lets take the fed money for Watson Park. I can see the line of cars from Lawrence and Lowell coming to one of the most congested roads in out town, but the money is "free" right? With all the trouble the LChip money brought us at Wasserman, you would think they would have learned!

I urge the TC to direct the TM to PRIVATIZE some town departments, the PARKS and REC should be the first on the list, get rid of the darn camp, the YMCA runs one just yards away! Let the MYA make all the field arrangements and lets hire a company to do our landscaping (Here is a hint Keith, They can be found in the yellow pages)

I want to add that I have no animus against any town employee but we can no longer afford these defined benefit plans. The rest of us in the real world went to 401K and IRA's back in the 80's, it is time the unions moved on this but since they have fought this for 30 years, I think a better strategy is to simply reduce the number of town employees, thus reducing our costs. (of forgot, private contracts will save us on labor costs, insurance costs, and of course pension costs).

Do not let the TM play his "fairness trumpet". It is not about recycling, fairness, or anything else. It is all about saving union jobs. It seems our town manager has forgotten who he works for, it is us taxpayers and we are at the breaking point. Sure glad to know he will have a new office with new carpet, enjoy that new carpet smell as yet another Merrimack family is thrown on the street.

Fight PAYT, the TM must hear this loud and clear, after all, the new sheet rock is pretty think, may need to yell louder than usual!
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Re: PAYT is Back

Postby Wayne » Sat Oct 16, 2010 11:45 am

PAYT = Personal Responsibility.
PAYT = A Good Idea.
Curbside Pickup = Even Better

(Kudos to Councilman Dwyer, whom I believe brought this idea up.)
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Re: PAYT is Back

Postby JMac1000 » Sat Oct 16, 2010 9:12 pm

Dennis

Do you or anyone know the cost of operating the transfer station? How many employees does the transfer station have? Why do we have the transfer station when a significant percentage of residents only use it several times a year, and use a private hauler? If there are 900k in cuts, does this seem to be an area the Council should at least consider? I would encourage the Council to gather the facts and explore this idea. I am not sure of the savings could be generated in this budget cycle? I know my private hauler does a great job, and could probably do a great job for the entire town. Right now, I have to pay for the Private hauler AND the cost of the transfer station, which I rarely use!

I know I am probably in the minority here. However, I seem to like the PAYT concept. Although I do not have all the facts, and understand the concern.... I know we pay for water much the same way, or electricity as well. Why would solid waste be immune from the same concept? I do think it would be a good conservation measure, and it would force everyone, including me to use less. I know I would want to pay as little as possible. I remember reading that when other towns went to a PAYT model, there was a drastic reduction in waste. Furthermore, why should the little old lady who uses 1 bag of trash every other week, be charged the same as the family of 6 who uses 15 bags a week? Its a reasonable question, don't you think? Regardless, I do not see this as the Town Manager, or Council trying to ram this down our throats. There is a 900k budget shortfall. They don't want to raise taxes. Most of us cannot afford a large tax increase. They have to look at all options, and study them. I think that is reasonable.

Actually, "tax relief" is here. Chelsea is starting to clear land and build soon, and the property is NOW taken out of current use, which if I understand correctly will bill at the full build rate. I can now look forward to tax relief as suggested right? I should see tax relief in the December bill?
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Re: PAYT is Back

Postby Jeannine Stergios » Sat Oct 16, 2010 10:06 pm

Jamie

Like you, we pay for trash disposal and have used the transfer station a handful of times in the past 10 years. If it went away I wouldn't notice. I don't understand why those opposed to PAYT don't just get their trash picked up for the lousy $6 a week that it costs my family.

I am curious about the amount of money that will come due from the land coming out of current use. Jamie, do you have any idea?
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Re: PAYT is Back

Postby MissyB » Sun Oct 17, 2010 8:14 am

I saw a program on TV recently. Sandy Pines, GA, has privitized a lot of the Town functions. They say they get as good or better service for less money.
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Re: PAYT is Back

Postby lynn » Sun Oct 17, 2010 8:43 am

If they are considering PAYT, then they should consider curbside as well.
and include recycling so that we don't lose the benefits of the streamline
recycling that we have now.

A great majority of the town already pays for curbside. So you could take the
money you pay the private hauler and add it to your tax bill and have maybe a
lower cost than with private. The Town could divide the town into routes and
put those out to bid for the local haulers to bid on so we don't put them out of business.
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Re: PAYT is Back

Postby joe179 » Sun Oct 17, 2010 9:13 am

If they are considering PAYT, then they should consider curbside as well....


Ahhh yes - after several years of operating the TS folks are starting to consider a different method of getting their solid waste taken care of. And I am one who thinks the same as Wayne:

PAYT = Personal Responsibility.
PAYT = A Good Idea.
Curbside Pickup = Even Better


Dennis, perhaps you can chime in here with your viewpoint of curbside. If I recall correctly, you were against the curbside proposal big time back in '03.

Makes me wonder why you are so dead set against PAYT...
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Re: PAYT is Back

Postby Debra Huffman » Sun Oct 17, 2010 3:25 pm

I look forward to reading the facts and figures, but my inclination is to like PAYT. It just seems like a reasonable thing. If you generate a lot of trash, you pay more. If you generate less trash, you pay less. Seems reasonable.

If the concept is that the cost per bag will completely cover the cost of the TS, then, naturally, when you subtract the payments of all those people who currently pay for curbside (that is, they won't be paying for the TS through their taxes anymore), the cost for each of us left using the TS will go up, right? Then maybe more of us pay for private hauling, leaving fewer to share the cost of the TS, and it's a spiral. So? I'm not sure how all that plays out.

As I said, I look forward to reading the facts and figures.
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Re: PAYT is Back

Postby lynn » Sun Oct 17, 2010 3:38 pm

I personally don't like the idea of having to buy the bags or tags
or whatever they decide to use - not the cost but the effort
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Re: PAYT is Back

Postby Dennis King » Sun Oct 17, 2010 6:28 pm

I find I only have one bag a week to drop off in the general area as all the rest goes into the recycling shed. Single stream is so much easier and I am sure if more people knew of this, they would join in too. But even one bag is too much of a hassle for me, it should not be a big deal to throw away your trash. People are getting caught up in the "fairness argument" You really want to go there? How about the fact that the condo has a great density of students! How about the childless couple, how about people who do not use the library, the senior center, MYA,,,, the list is endless. The whole town voted for the TS after literally years of debate. The TM has a budget gap because the state is not paying their share of the retirement benefits, plain and simple, the union demands are the reason we are now forced with either more taxes or cuts.

Privatization does work, a reader responded to a PBS show that showed even with these companies making a profit (shocking), they saved the town millions! We should not be fooled but the smoke from our Town Manager. Frankly I am sick of all the guile and misdirection. He is basically saying, lets make one group of taxpayers the bad guys so we can tax them (i.e. a fee) so I do not have to make any tough decisions. We all use the TS, even condo owners can use it, usually when they are doing home improvements but it is there for us all.

The Town Council should recall the last firestorm, it will be worse this time if they try it again! I am tired or the debate, the studies showed trash in the Boston suburbs increased dramatically when they put in PAYT, human nature is human nature and I for one do not want to see trash all over our town. PAYT is always about making you feel good, never about the costs or inconvenience. It is high time our town manager stopped looking for some relief in yet another tax or fee. Keith, time to man up, the unions are the reason this cost is going up on us, time to reduce the number of union jobs, if we start this trend,maybe we can finally get some cooperation. They brought us to the brink of the abyss. We must act and act boldly, lets start with custodial positions, both in the school and the town. This should be a no brainier. I fully understand the school budget is a larger problem, but Keith was the one who wanted to whimp out and risk town-wide animosity just so he can save union jobs. We have fought this for years and frankly I am tired of the debate. Keith, try to think how to really save money, do not let that new carpet smell distract you, open the yellow pages, get the quotes and lets reduce our exposure to these caustic union contracts!
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Re: PAYT is Back

Postby JMac1000 » Sun Oct 17, 2010 7:46 pm

Dennis,

As you are for privatization where it makes sense, so am I. Therefore why would you be against privatizing solid waste and trash pickup, since small percentage of people use the TS on a regular basis. I see it as a waste of taxpayer dollars..... Someone suggested you were for the Transfer Station? How much does it cost to operate the station? I am sure the town could privatize trash pickup and it would be a savings to the town. If you are not in favor of it being privatized, can you list out what should be? The summer camp will not save a dime. It is self supported by those that attend. Regardless it is small dollars. Maybe the TC/TM should look at all town functions and see what could be put out to bid for privatization. However, the lionshare of the budget is Police/Fire/DPW. I cannot see these functions being privatized. I think it would be detrimental. However, there are some functions that could probably be done for less by outsourcing it. The town needs to take a fresh look a this with an open mind.

Jeannine, I am not sure of what the assessment of the Mall property is. I know there was, or is a fairly substantial one time sum of money(I think over 500k) for taking it out of current use. I am not sure what the town is doing with this money. It may be going to the emergency rainy day fund?
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Re: PAYT is Back

Postby Jeannine Stergios » Sun Oct 17, 2010 10:53 pm

MissyB

I saw a program on TV recently. Sandy Pines, GA, has privitized a lot of the Town functions. They say they get as good or better service for less money.


I saw the same program and was very impressed.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 83679.html

HEre are some other cities and towns doing the same thing.

http://www.caller.com/news/2010/jan/30/ ... -city-run/
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Re: PAYT is Back

Postby Dennis King » Sun Oct 17, 2010 11:15 pm

Jamie,
You will find that the town is REQUIRED by law to provide waste disposal to the people. The town had this debate as to the best method, the facts and figures went to and fro for YEARS, This is all done and the town manager is just bringing this up again frankly because he is too cowardly to make the real hard choices. I feel we must force him to do what is best for this town, regardless of how nice his new office looks.

As to privatization, sure the TS can be run by an outside firm, why not? All the town landscaping, road work, janitorial work, it can all be contracted out, lots of property management firms out there that would love to bid on this and we would not have the liability for workers comp, gen insurance and of course, PENSIONS!

The unions and their greed have brought us to this place, we can no longer support these million dollar plus giveaways with every state retirement. Keith has a short fall because of UNIONS, very simple. We should start by reducing the size of our government.

Other cuts, one less patrol for the PD would save over a million in our annual budget (cars, repairs, overtime, salary,,, does not include pensions), other cuts can be made in the FD, lets move to a 8 hour or 12 hour schedule but lets stop the practice of paying them to SLEEP!

The Parks and Rec can be eliminated and private groups such as the MYA can run park services.You are incorrect when you say the camp is self supporting, this is only a recent event and more of a bookkeeping trick. (we paid big money to repair the roofs and other money comes from grants that do not factor but believe me, it is all our money). Of course the fact the camp was purchased with millions of our tax dollars and the pledge was to eliminate it in the first 2 years, well that never happened.

As for the teachers, I see no reason why we can not increase class sizes by 3-5 students each. Let's have a private firm do the custodial and grounds maintenance and I think we should look at the MYA taking over the sports programs.
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Re: PAYT is Back

Postby Brian McCarthy » Mon Oct 18, 2010 5:16 am

Dennis,

The Town Manager was told two meetings ago that PAYT was not to be included. At the last meeting Counselor Dwyer suggested that 'all means of waste disposal be considered' and that he would work for the next two weeks to try and bring forward options. All Council members said 'go for it'. As usual, I request you please research your topic before hand.

I do not believe that this is the time to start cutting back on patrols.

The Parks/Rec functions, no the MYA structure is not setup to handle it. I believe that the MYA is a big part of what makes this Town a good place to live. I also believe that is true of many of the events that are currently handled by the Parks/Rec department. Throwing that away would be a mistake.

Start discussing the school size over in the School threads, not here. This will hopefully help some people understand that the Thursday meetings the Town Council holds, effect ONLY THE TOWN PORTION of the tax rate.

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Re: PAYT is Back

Postby Ken Coleman » Mon Oct 18, 2010 6:03 am

The Transfer Station was and is a poor idea. Curbside pickup makes more sense and in total would cost less.

The original version of curbside was with the idea that it would be run by private companies. The idea was defeated in part by the current private trash haulers, who feared that a larger company could outbid them for the town. This was not true as the original plan had divided the town into parts so that our current private trash haulers could each get a piece, providing they would bid a competitive price.

We should not throw good money after bad (no pun intended) and keep trying to make a bad plan work.

Privatization and mandatory curbside would save the town money, improve service; fix the issues with the dump routes in the north end of town. It is a win, win win.

PAYT just takes a bad expensive plan (Transfer station) and makes it cost even more. (PAYT has to be administered and unless one can conclude that we have staff at the transfer station with extra time on their hands, it will ultimately require more staffing.

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