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Thurman scraps municipal trash collection, avoids tax increase

Town board members discussed municipal trash collection at their special budget meeting Monday, Nov. 14, and after more than a few exchanges of angry words, decided to eliminate it for 2012 and keep local property taxes flat, avoiding a predicted 15 to 18 percent increase.

Town board members discussed municipal trash collection at their special budget meeting Monday, Nov. 14, and after more than a few exchanges of angry words, decided to eliminate it for 2012 and keep local property taxes flat, avoiding a predicted 15 to 18 percent increase. Photo by Thom Randall.

— After 90 minutes of heated discussion Monday, Nov. 14, the Thurman Town Board adopted a 2012 budget that eliminated its treasured tradition of townwide, curbside trash collection.

The decision hung in the balance for the evening with three of five board members expressing support to retain the service — rare in the region for a rural town — until councilwoman Rebecca Hitchcock changed her position as the reality of a pending 15 to 20 percent tax hike sunk in.

“I just can’t do that to the taxpayers of Thurman,” she said as she cast her vote for a budget that abandons the municipal trash collection and calls for a zero percent tax rate increase.

Earlier in the evening, Hitchcock and fellow board members Leon Galusha and Charlie Bills had expressed solid opposition to eliminating the trash pickup, based on the many calls they received from concerned residents.

But board member Al Vasak and town Supervisor Evelyn Wood noted that the town would soon need a replacement trash truck, and the town would have to start saving tens of thousands of dollars per year if trash collection were to continue for long.

Vasak characterized trash collection as a luxury, and observed it was unfair for owners of vacant land to pay for trash collection when they didn’t have any. Several people in the audience echoed his point.

Vasak and Wood said that amount of trash collected in town — about eight tons per week — was “ridiculous” or “excessive” for the 338 families living in town. They and others at the meeting speculated that trash was being brought in by outsiders seeking free disposal.

Leon Galusha argued that the town ought to prosecute the offenders, but keep trash collection. He and Bills maintained that municipal trash collection would cost far less to the average homeowner than alternative disposal methods.

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