Ben Chin rallies opposition to Mayor Macdonald’s new trash bag fee

Ben Chin rallies opposition to Mayor Macdonald’s new trash bag fee

Lewiston mayoral candidate Ben Chin delivered more than a hundred petitions from local residents to City Hall today, opposing the plan supported by Mayor Robert Macdonald to begin charging a $2-per-bag fee for garbage collection.

“This is one issue where it’s not about right or left, it’s about whether or not you are actually listening to our community,” said Ben Chin at a press conference in front of City Hall today. “Mayor Macdonald’s trash bag fee would drag us backward, harming the poor and the elderly and reinforcing the worst stereotypes about our city.”

Macdonald voted in favor advancing the $2-per-bag fee as part of a plan to shift a million dollars a year of the cost of waste management in Lewiston off the city’s budget and onto individual residents. During a City Council meeting this July, he cast the deciding vote against a motion to table the proposal to allow more time for Lewiston residents to weigh in on the issue and he voted to pay $30,000 in taxpayer funds to the company seeking the trash bag contract for them to conduct a marketing blitz in favor of their own proposal.

Macdonald has defended the proposal during his campaign for re-election. During a debate sponsored by the Sun Journal he urged residents to attend the “little get-togethers” hosted by the company to sell their proposal.

Chin said he has been hearing opposition to the trash bag free from all corners of Lewiston and from residents of all ideological backgrounds. He highlighted a signature on his petition from former Republican lawmaker Stavros Mendros, who wrote that “For many of our elderly, this is all they get for their taxes. No kids in school, no grandkids in state, don’t need plowing, never call the police, never had a fire.”

Chin’s supporters at the event held red stop signs labeled “Stop Macdonald’s trash bag fee.”

“I’m concerned that low-income people, or seniors on fixed income, or families with children are going to have a hard time paying for these bags. People are going to try to get around these new rules. They’ll find ways to illegally dump trash. They’ll just stuff more garbage in each bag, rather than reducing waste,” said Lewiston resident and retiree John Myrand, speaking at the press conference.

Chin agreed that the city needs to increase its recycling rate and reduce waste, but noted that researchers have questioned if a pay-as-you-throw system really would increases recycling rates. He also noted that it may encourage illegal burning and dumping.

“There are better policy options,” said Chin. “We can use the savings of reduced waste to directly incentivize recycling by offering a property tax rebate for people who recycle. Or we could do the opposite and penalize people who refuse to recycle. We could just take the $30,000 Mayor Macdonald voted to pay for a corporate monopoly’s advertising budget, and use that money to actually go door to door and sign people up to recycle.”

“Mayor Macdonald is wrong on this issue. I’m proud to stand with the common sense of nearly every Lewiston voter I’ve talked to and stand against his trash bag fee,” said Chin.

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