Curbside garbage pickup issue won't go to Montville referendum

Montville - After three years of discussion, the town is now moving forward on a proposal to implement curbside garbage pickup.

But the issue will not come before voters in a referendum, as some councilors had hoped.

That announcement came at Wednesday night's meeting of the Department of Public Works/Solid Waste Standing Committee. Town Councilor Chuck Longton explained that, after discussions with Town Attorney Eileen Duggan and the Connecticut secretary of the state, he had learned that town and state laws prohibited sending the issue directly to Montville residents for a vote unless it is put on the November ballot.

Former Town Councilor Dick Wilson urged the committee to put an ordinance before the Town Council for a vote rather than trying to find a loophole that allows a public vote.

"People don't want to have to make this decision. You're wrong," he said, reminding them that they were elected to make the decisions for the public.

Councilor Billy Caron seemed unconvinced and voiced concern about raising taxes without citizens' input.

As a compromise, the committee decided to bring the issue before the Town Council for a vote - but only after an informational meeting about the proposed ordinance at which the public can voice questions and concerns.

Longton said the residents need to be able to give input because "if this were to occur, this would be a major change to a lot of people in town."

The issue of townwide garbage pickup has long been controversial in Montville. According to Town Councilor Dana McFee, who has been an outspoken advocate of the idea, some people are concerned about the impact the change would have on their taxes.

According to Department of Public Works calculations, the average tax increase for homeowners would be $80. A transfer station sticker currently costs $55 for nonseniors and $45 for seniors, while households that pay a private contractor to pick up their trash pay $264 on average.

"When you start adding up the fuel cost for most people in the town, that $55 dump sticker costs over $100," pointed out McFee.

He also believes that many households would see a tax increase less than the $80 average. According to his estimates, people living in the Montville Manor and Oakdale Heights developments would see tax increases of around $52.

The proposal would offset some of the cost of pickup by decreasing staff at the dump and keeping it open only part-time, leading to an increase of about $579,000 over the current system, according to town officials.

k.catalfamo@theday.com

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