Study: “Pay as You Throw” garbage fee could work in Scranton

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – The $300 garbage fee is always one of the most controversial issues in the city of Scranton’s budget but could changes potentially be on the horizon?

Scranton city council is meeting Monday night and one of the items on its agenda is a study performed by a Virginia company which indicates that a “Pay as You Throw” garbage fee collection system could work in the Electric City.

Monday was trash day for residents in South Scranton.

Right now, the city charges every property owner a flat fee of $300 a year for garbage collection.

Some people, like Scranton city council president Pat Rogan, believe that system is unfair and for the last nine years he has been advocating a change.

“What we’re looking at is a possibility of a “pay as you throw” program or a hybrid that may mix a very small flat fee with a per-bag type fee,” Scranton city council president Pat Rogan said.

Rogan feels the current system is most unfair for seniors who still own their own home.

He says a senior who lives alone may only throw away one bag a week whereas a large family could have significantly more.

“I don’t have that much garbage and the neighbors next door have maybe five or ten bags of stuff out there. I only have one. Why should I pay $300?” Helen Mokis of West Scranton asked.

SCS Engineers recently did an analysis of whether a “pay as you throw” fee system could work in Scranton.

The answer is yes but surveyors stress it could take a lot of education to inform homeowners.

“Any type of change is always difficult to implement but I think in the long run it’s going to be a more fair system (if approved),” Rogan said.

Scranton’s $300 garbage fee is currently the only bill that is the same for everyone.

Tax bills are based on the size of your home/property, sewer bills are based on consumption and the wage fee is based on how much you earn.

Residents say a change could help seniors who need their money the most.

“Some of them go and pay the fee so the garbage will be picked up but then they won’t have money for their drugs/prescriptions,” Ellen Sayers of Scranton said.

While Scranton city council president Pat Rogan supports the “pay as you throw” option, it’s unclear exactly where all the other councilmen and the mayor stand on the issue so the change could face an uphill battle.

In 2006, the study found that 253 communities in Pennsylvania had a “pay as you throw” option which is roughly 18-percent of the commonwealth.

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