Athol Trash collection in Thurman is now under reconsideration for elimination in town, according to discussions aired at the local town board meeting held Monday, Nov. 7. The gathering featured a full house of local residents expressing opinions and frustrations over both taxes and potential cutbacks in services.
Town Supervisor Evelyn Wood reintroduced her initial 2012 budget plan that scraps the town’s curbside trash collection and calls for a zero percent tax increase, rather than the 11 to 17 percent now pending with trash pickup retained.
Town Board members Al Vasak and Becky Hitchcock, who several weeks ago rejected eliminating trash collection, spoke in terms favoring the move to avoid a tax increase.
Also, the board made no move Nov. 7 to enact a tax cap override, which would be a preliminary step in passing a budget reflecting such an increase.
Wood proposed that the town collect trash at the town landfill, and charge for disposal services, $1 per 15-gallon bag, and $2 for a 33 gallon bag.
Resident Diane Golden criticized the proposal, saying that local residents would dump more refuse on the local landscape than they do now.
“This is an absolutely horrific loss of services that will be so destructive of property values,” she said, suggesting the town step up its enforcement measures.
Vasak responded by noting that hiring a code enforcement officer to stop the dumping would boost taxes, as would a new trash truck, at a cost of $250,000 to replace the town’s existing deteriorating trash hauler.
“Unless we fire two employees, there’s no way to keep the town budget under a two percent increase if we retain trash pickup,” he said, adding that if residents want garbage pickup, they’d have to shoulder a hefty tax increase. He and others responded that trash dumping would likely occur whether or not there was curbside pickup.