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Nahant ready for trash talk

NAHANT – Trash is one of the topics expected to be talked about at Town Meeting in April.Selectmen instructed Nahant Town Administrator Mark Cullinan to draft an article for the Town Meeting warrant explaining the town’s current system and how it would be different if the fee was included in property tax bills, according to Selectman Michael Manning.Questions surfaced last year after property owners were no longer allowed to opt out of trash collection.”It is important to have a public discussion of the solid waste disposal fee,” Manning said.The annual household base fee is $160 and the town charges an additional $62 annually for each person in the household.Manning said the warrant article would explain the solid waste removal fee and ask Town Meeting to ratify it.”I think people would be more supportive once they get over the perception it’s capricious or arbitrary,” he said.Selectman Richard Lombard said when the trash fee was part of the tax rate more than a decade ago, residents complained the system was unfair to residents who had expensive homes but generated little trash.Selectman Lainey Titus, who is the newest member of the board, said solid waste disposal fees were brought up several times during the campaign.”People expressed concern to me that they couldn’t opt out,” she said. “I think it is a good idea to put it on the (Town Meeting) warrant for discussion.”Titus said she believes having a separate trash fee is preferable to including it in property taxes, because of the wide range of property values in town.”You could have an elderly person who has very little trash,” she said, “but if they lived in an expensive home that person would be charged a large amount for trash based solely on the value of their home.”Manning explained the trash fee covers more than just curbside pickup of solid waste. He said money from the trash fee is used to pick up trash at the beaches, run the compost station and provide other trash-related services in town.Cullinan agrees Town Meeting should be allowed to vote on how residents are charged for trash removal services, but he doesn’t expect any significant changes would be made in how the trash fee is assessed.”What we’re doing is seeking public affirmation of the policy,” he said.

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