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Torrington may revisit trash plan Pay as you throw proposal would have covered budget increase May 7, 2018 – Local
Torrington Public Works Director Gerry Rollett displays the three different sizes proposed for pay-as-you-throw trash bags last month during an information meeting. On Monday, the City Council did not vote on the proposal and instead, an ad hoc committee will look further into the issue. Republican-American
TORRINGTON – Pay as you throw isn’t happening next year, and it shows on the bottom line for next year’s budget.
The proposal isn’t dead as an ad hoc committee will be set up to further examine the proposal.
Its elimination now shows that the program’s projected savings and the amount of money it would have generated is close to what the budget increase for the city is for next year so far.
The city is looking at $2.3 million increase next year and the number was too high for many City Council members that they were uncomfortable approving the budget, even tentatively.
The city said pay as you throw could have reduced what it pays to remove trash by $2.2 million next year. The savings would have come with the revenue from selling the trash bags – $1.7 million – and a projected $427,680 reduction for less trash being thrown away.
The city is looking at a 2018-2019 budget of $54.1 million, but that’s unlikely to stay as-is because there is an uneasiness of increasing the city’s 45.75 mill rate any higher. The current budget is $51.8 million. It has been a common story for the city for years, and part of the narrative has been the unpredictability on the state’s part to approve a budget on time for municipalities to set their budgets.
Pay as you throw was an unpopular program with many residents, who bashed it at two public informational meetings and on social media.
“It became abundantly clear that there were more questions than answers that were being generated,” Carbone said. “We recommend this be slowed down considerably.”
City Council member Anne L. Ruwet agreed, saying there were too many unanswered questions at those meetings.
The mayor said there is merit in developing some strategic plan that encourages recycling and reduces disposal costs.
The pay as you throw was a proposal to generate money for a city that has seen its funding from Hartford diminish. Following last year’s delayed state budget, the city had to deplete many reserve accounts, including ones for the police and fire departments, $295,000 from sidewalk and roof repairs, and $212,809 in overtime. The city also cut money for bridge repairs, drainage improvements, park improvements, and $800,000 from its vehicle replacement fund.
Repeating those tactics again can’t happen, the mayor advised.
“We have nothing budgeted in any of these line items,” Carbone said. “This is not something we can sustain. We cannot move forward without restoring some of these critical expenditures.”
The mayor said she’s proposing a phased-in restoration of the cuts by one-third.
The mayor also said the city can’t dip into its fund balance – the equivalent of the city’s savings account – again since credit rating look unfavorably at city’s constantly taking money from there to balance their budgets.