Doing well by doing good

2010-05-28

As I have said many times, Hampstead is in excellent shape financially. Our long term debt is expected to drop by about $800,000 this year, our surplus remains at $1.5 million and our local tax increase was below inflation at 1.6% (following a zero percent tax increase the previous year). So why am I worried?

I am very worried because the Agglomeration tax increase was 12% this past year, which meant that, even with a low local tax increase; the average homeowner paid an extra $1,000 in property taxes. Montreal controls the Agglomeration and their mismanagement hurts all of us. I am expecting more double digit increases from the Agglomeration and that means that Hampstead must take all reasonable steps to keep our tax increases as low as possible.

It is not easy and tough decisions have to be made. However, so far we have found ways to do it, while still significantly improving the town. Each May, our newsletter focuses on the environment and I will use my message this month to explain the benefits and importance of our latest Green initiative - the collection of green waste on Fridays instead of regular garbage.

Cost Savings

Every year we have been collecting leaves in the fall, for composting. The cost this year would have been at least $15,000. The new weekly Green collection (which includes the leaves) replaces a garbage collection, so there is no additional cost and we will save the $15,000 leaf collection cost. In addition, the Quebec government taxes us $10.73 for each ton of garbage delivered to the dump. This amount is about to increase to $20.23. The more Green waste that is diverted from garbage the less we will pay for dumping the garbage. Moreover, we expect our new garbage contract to be less expensive, as there will be one less collection 5 months of the year, when there is no green waste to collect.

Revenue Gains

By collecting green waste (including that left behind for us by gardeners) we expect to obtain additional revenue. The Quebec government pays municipalities for each ton of green waste and recyclables that we collect. The formula is complicated but it is based on how we do in comparison to other municipalities and the absolute tonnage. Further, we will avoid substantial penalties which the Quebec government is expected to start applying in 2014 on those municipalities that are not doing well and do not have Green collections.

By reducing regular garbage collection to once a week, we expect residents will increase their recycling. We also expect gardeners to leave their waste for us to collect, as it is much cheaper for them than hauling it away and paying dumping fees.

Is once a week garbage collection a hardship?

The vast majority of municipalities in Canada have once a week garbage collection. On the island, Westmount, CSL, Beaconsfield, TMR, and others have had once a week collection for a long time. Data provided by our garbage contractor show that over 70% of our garbage is collected on Tuesday, so all residents will have to do is hold onto the other 30% for an extra half a week.

How you can help make this program a success

Whether you use a gardener or not, please put out your green waste on Fridays. Green waste may be left in regular plastic bags (the bags do not have to be biodegradable), cardboard boxes, paper bags, or reusable garbage containers. The green waste may be kept near your garage door by the building line until 6 pm Thursday evening when it may be moved near the sidewalk.

We’re number 5!

Based on the latest available numbers, Hampstead has the fifth best record of all 32 boroughs and towns on the island in terms of recuperated garbage (Recycling, Green, Organic combined). Let’s all do our part. The environment will be better for our children and our taxes will increase less.

A note about organic waste collection

Unlike some of our neighbours who instituted an organic waste collection rather than a green collection, we have gone the green route since green waste weighs much more than organic waste and we will get more revenue. It also reduces landfill much more. We will consider an additional organic collection for 2011 if enough residents wish to participate. I hope to have more information in a few months.


Sincerely,


Dr. Bill Steinberg
Mayor, Town of Hampstead