Letter: There’s a cost of doing nothing on trash operation

Posted 11/23/22

To the editor:

Something us Americans do not enjoy is unnecessarily overpaying for goods and services.

The policies advocated by those with a fixation on simply low taxes fail to take into …

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Letter: There’s a cost of doing nothing on trash operation

Posted

To the editor:

Something us Americans do not enjoy is unnecessarily overpaying for goods and services.

The policies advocated by those with a fixation on simply low taxes fail to take into account costs which do not readily show up on a balance sheet. Viewed in aggregate, the legacy of such myopic policies here in Portsmouth has been demonstrated to needlessly increase our overall cost of living. If you offered one the choice of paying $1 more in municipal taxes to avoid paying $1.25 elsewhere, the decision should be a no-brainer.

In anticipation of the current discussions regarding the future role of the transfer station, the town’s Solid Waste/Recycling Study Committee (SWRC) debated at length various scenarios in multiple meetings. The set of recommendations made in March 2021 that formed the basis of the SWRC’s Jan. 10, 2022 presentation to our Town Council boils down to this: Town-wide curbside pickup funded by the general fund with some mechanism to implement pay-as-you-throw (PAYT), and ideally the transfer station converting to a “diversion station” with limited operating hours for continued diversion of ad hoc items. 

As I mentioned at the podium during the Town Council meeting of Oct. 11, 2022, there is a real cost here of “doing nothing.” Not being under the umbrella of a municipal contract is the primary reason that a majority of Portsmouth residents are indirectly paying higher costs for trash disposal. This is because of the simple fact that private haulers are not able to tip at the much lower municipal tipping rate of $54/ton at the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation. (The commercial rate is more than double at $115/ton). 

Other indirect costs arising from our “status quo” include, but are not limited to, the fact that the current paradigm has resulted in multiple haulers driving up and down our streets multiple days of the week. We can and should seek ways to lower the overall cost of living here in Portsmouth by switching the municipal program to the disposal preference already chosen by a supermajority of our residents.

Initiatives where we pool our resources are those where I look forward to continued collaboration. For example, I applaud our town for finalizing a Community Choice Aggregation agreement, which will provide us further choice for our electricity supply starting next May, which has proven especially timely. Working towards reducing the overall cost of living here in Portsmouth while unlocking more services for our hardworking businesses and residents simply must be the overriding priority of our decision makers.

Theodore Pietz

85 Glen Road

Portsmouth

Editor’s note: Mr. Pietz chairs the town’s Solid Waste/Recycling Study Committee, and is vice-chair of the Portsmouth Economic Development Committee.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.