Merrimack town manager wants 'pay to throw' trash plan

MERRIMACK – Along with next year’s spending plan, residents will be asked to consider a different way to handle their trash.

As part of his initial budget presentation to the town council Thursday, Town Manager Keith Hickey proposed a “pay as you throw” program for the town’s transfer station.

Right now, residents can bring waste to the town’s transfer station for free, but it costs the town $58 a ton to take it to a landfill.

Under the pay to throw program, residents would buy trash bags for $1 or $1.50 – depending on the size – in order to throw away their trash at the transfer station.

Hickey said residents would be more inclined to use the town’s recycling center because it would still be free to them.

The estimated savings to the town is $797,000.

Hickey also proposed a $22.61 million spending plan for next year, largely funded by taxpayers.

The proposal keeps the town’s portion of the current tax rate the same at $4.23, but it is 2 percent higher than current spending, largely due to a budgeting change, Hickey said.

In years past, department leaders visited the council throughout the year to request money from reserve accounts to pay for certain equipment or projects.

This year, Hickey has built those anticipated withdrawal requests into the budget, which has inflated the number but does not mean taxpayers will pay more for it since the reserve money already exists.

Hickey also proposed some personnel changes, including eliminating a planning assistant in the town’s community development department; downgrading a police dispatch supervisor to a standard dispatcher; and several other adjustments that don’t eliminate jobs but lower wages.

The council will begin meeting with department heads about individual budgets Jan. 5.