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Bag Tags?

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Town council has been tossing around a major tax hike, much higher user fees, service cuts, and metered water usage as it tries to wrestle with a monstrous $2.7-million shortfall for the 2004 budget.

It was inevitable, then, that the notion of “bag tags” for garbage was sure to rear its ugly head sooner or later.

If implemented, the plan is for each residence in town to get 52 free tags a year, starting in 2005. Any additional tags then will be sold for $1 each. Well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out this translates into one free bag of garbage per week per residence.

Hands up anyone whose household produces one lowly bag of garbage per week? Right, so okay, even if your household only produces two bags of garbage per week, that’s still an extra $52 a year. Heaven forbid three bags a week—$104. And so on.

The other problem, of course, is that the plan—in its current form—treats a residence containing a single dweller the same as one with a family of four. That’s just plain dumb.

Now this isn’t to say residents shouldn’t be looking at ways to cut down on their garbage output each week—just like we all should be trying to conserve hydro, gasoline, and water use. But there’s only so much people can do, especially when faced with a “Blue Box” system that’s mediocre at best.

The real danger with “bag tags,” as local resident Doug Jensen pointed out in a letter to council, is that people will avoid the extra fee by getting rid of their garbage in business dumpsters around town, or worse, along Eighth Street or in the bush.

Can you spell environmental disaster? And really, is an extra $77,666 in estimated revenue—when faced with shortfalls in the millions of dollars—worth that cost?

Certainly the “bag tag” plan in its current form should be trashed. Instead, any fee, if council is determined to stay this course, should be aimed at those who abuse the system—not families just trying to live day-to-day. As Mr. Jensen rightly noted, “Garbage collection is an essential service, not a luxury.”

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