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The Abington Citizens Network
where Abington, PA residents can share ideas and join forces to build a better community


Trash-Pay to Throw ( Now Called Variable Rate Trash)

What is it all about? Is it the best thing for this township?

   This site is a forum for information sharing and idea sharing.  Please feel free to send your post for others to view and  tell us whether you would like to publish your email with your posting or to use ours.  (lel@abingtoncitizens.com)


PRIOR HAPPENINGS :   Before 5-08   To see the current trash updates click here


6-13-07 Asked for a call back on why no details of the trash program were yet on the township website - only a picture of the three containers and the basics about when to put out your trash is there - nothing about how to choose containers, which would be more expensive, what about trash that did not fit in the container, when the new system was slated to go into the remaining areas, etc.  Ed Micciolo called me back & apparently  no one is experiencing the new system as was originally discussed.  Instead, the new cans and trucks are being put into service but under the old system's guidelines in that you may still throw out any amount of trash that you choose at no extra charge.   When I asked when that would change I was told that the Commissioners would review the process and then would decide IF there would be a change - ie: as I understand it now, there is no guarantee that we will be charged for trash that does not fit in the containers - or that those who throw out more will be charged more  ( which if you ask me is a good thing because some days I throw out lots and some days I throw out hardly  anything ...... figuring out what size can to pay for is not something that would be easy to do - and making special arrangements for getting "blue bags" for the over-flow or arranging for special pick up on clean out days seems  to be a step backward from the system we currently have.  Cans with lids and encouraging more recycling seems like a good thing. )  The Commissioners will be reviewing this and then the implementation of the changes might not take place for another year if I understood Mr. Micciolo correctly.  So, with all high hopes, we'll check the website next week to see when we might expect the new system in our neighborhood - and I'll encourage you again if you have any input or insight for me to let me know. 

3-15-07 I sat down with Mr Micciolo --- and Mr Vile and Eileen ........   I do have some  figures ----at last. And yes I would have liked to have them a year ago before I had to go hopping up and down on one foot, requesting them at Public Meetings and writing to the newspaper.
 When I get a chance I will let you know what questions they leave me with - I haven't had a chance to digest them yet .  I understood today from another resident that they also have a study - which I would ASSUME  would have included figures.... . I'm not sure why that has not been mentioned - I'll let you know when I get a chance to go over these things. If you have any input on the trash system - whether you like it or not --- let me know.

2-28-07  I asked Ed Micciolo Director of Public Works   again for the Trash figures .  He said last time & this that I am required to call him and sit down to discuss this. I actually just would like to have the figures - but that is not going to happen  -  so I will call.

Here are my main questions as of this date :

After a year of trying to get the figures ( and receiving only the Power Point figures that added up to nothing ) Why can we not get the info posted on the website so people can begin to understand the plan? The township's stubborn refusal is really mind-boggling.

What the Township has  called a pilot program is no pilot program at all if the residents who are in it have not yet been restriced in what they can throw out - and they were supposedly taking "polls" that indicated how pleased everyone was with the new system. A TRUE pilot program should be instituted so we can hear some TRUE feedback . I have heard both good and bad myself.

Why can we not get the figures that he used to tell people what the new system would save them ? There were grants and other special funding involved in the adoption of this new program.   It is possible, for instance, that this will end up costing a lot more unless we can continue to get the grants and special funding that are being relied on now . We just want to see the figures to understand this.

We all agree more recycling is desirable. But is it possible that if a recyclying "awareness' program were instituted ( at substantially less cost) we might also get a surge in the amounts being recycled, as is being claimed with the new system.  And requiring lids on cans might greatly reduce the water weight.

Presonally, I recycle pretty close to the max - but one week  I may have 4 cans of trash - another week  I may have a half a can of trash - my use is definitely not the same week after week - it seems hard to imagine that somehow this would be able to acount for my actual use - and the inconvenience of dealing with excesses would be unpleasant to say the least.

 Just my thoughts - I agree  things will likely be neater with less trash blowing down the street - but that's rare around here that we get much of it going down the street. Might be different in other parts of the township.


1-23- 07  The budget was presented in the December meeting, and the trash  area reflected a reduction of $1 in your trash fee. HOWEVER, if every single resident will be paying separately for the blue bags and for any extra ( like  clean out days ) in this system, they may end up paying substantially more. We are having trouble getting information on this.  So while one's trash can may go out only half-filled on many days, on the days he has MORE than a can's worth, or on a  clean-up day he will be paying extra.  This hardly sounds like a winning situation for residents.  In addition, some neighbors have said that where they used to just put the recyclable cardboard, for  instance, on the  curb - they may now have to cut boxes up to make them fit into the can. We still have to confirm this and are waiting for a call back or an email from Mr Miccolo or Mr. Lahaza.   I hope we can get an answer and eventually get some of these details on the township website.
Sent: Monday, January 22, 2007 11:36 AM
To: 'M. Matthew Lahaza'
Subject: Trash passed or not ?

There seems to be quite some confusion over whether the trash program is or is not passed …… In the areas that don't yet have it, people seem to know almost nothing. Of those that do know a little something, no one seems to know if it's passed or still up for discussion. Should they be trying to GET information and then commenting or how is that to work? I DID go to the website before asking you this - and took time to surf - but under Refuse and Recycling there was NO link to information about the details or the status of the program . And I have been asking for that source of communication to be used since March. Please fill me in on the status and tell me why we can't get info onto the website about this.


Lora Lehmann


Sent: Sunday, January 21, 2007 9:45 AM
To: 'emiccolo@abingtonpa.gov'
Subject: Trash figures please

Dear Mr. Micciolo Yes, after you dropped off the Power Point presentation I DID ask you again for the figures that would allow me to see how you determined that this program would save money over the current program, which that did not. At that time you directed me to the Budget figures and said they could be obtained at the library. And yes, I called you yet again to say that those figures did NOT allow me to see the financial merits of the new program compared to the old program. At that point you suggested that all the figures were not possible to derive and that some you had to "pull out of the air" . I told you I still would like to see what you used. And yes, I STILL would like them. Please let me know how I can get them.

Thank you.

Lora Lehmann


12-06-06  Just so you know - we never did get any figures  that could be rectified. We still would like them.  In January they are starting 2 more areas, we understand with the new program  . But still there is confusion about heavy trash "clean-out"  days, blue bags etc by residents and  .  Still would like residents who are using the system to check in with us and share your feelings about it.

5-31-06   Times Chronicle / Montgomery News  - Reprinted with permission

Talk on trash system centers on need for more discussion
By: Lisa Beisel, Staff Writer
The debate on the possible variable rate trash system continued at the Abington Public Affairs Committee meeting Tuesday night.

Many commissioners had mixed feelings and more questions for Public Works Director Ed Micciolo.
Micciolo reported the township just received a grant for around $500,000 that could be used to buy three of the new trucks to be used with the program, if it was instated.
Commissioner Dennis Zappone said there were mixed feelings in his ward about the new program and he needed more information.  "We need to be educated more ourselves, so we can educate our constituents," he said. Zappone recommended another workshop be held. Commissioner Lori Schreiber suggested an independent study be done of residents in the pilot programs. "It's not just a matter of you or me going to a few people's doors," she said.
One question on everyone's mind was cost: would there be savings with the program?
Commissioner Michael O'Connor said that in past presentations, Micciolo showed costs did go down, and if no new plan was instated, trash costs will increase up to 10 percent per year. Recycling has gone up in the pilot areas, O'Connor reminded the commissioners, and the increase in recycling decreases the amount the township has to pay in trash disposal fees.
"The plan is not designed to have increased costs," he said.
Zappone suggested having a town meeting involving the whole township to discuss the proposed plan.
"This really could be open to anyone," he said.
Micciolo pointed out he has had various meetings about the proposed plan over the course of the pilot program. Residents of the wards hosting the pilot programs were notified of the meetings and were given the chance to speak, he said.
Schreiber asked Micciolo if he could make a fact sheet with pros and cons of the proposed program.
Some questions that still remain, such as what residents can do with excess trash, are up to the commissioners to decide, Micciolo said. He has presented several options, such as a special amnesty pick-up or selling special bags that could be used for overflow trash. It is up to the commissioners to decide which to adopt and this will have an effect on cost, he said.
Several board members thought more education was needed as to what materials may or may not be recycled. Micciolo said he has sent out brochures on recycling regularly, but now more residents are starting to pay attention to them, thanks to the pilot program. He also said extra emphasis is not being placed on recycling in the pilot areas so he can get a true reading of how much recycling is being done.
Commissioner John Carlin said he felt the board needed to make a decision.
"I don't think we can keep discussing this," Carlin said.
The board will discuss the possibility of another workshop at its full board meeting June 8.

5-31-06  Abington Citizen's Network

Spoke to Mr. Micciolo today . More figures are not available . The ones in the power point, he suggests, are all we need.  They do not seem  sufficient to cover all the costs of the project  and allow us to compare. I am directed to the Library where I can get a copy of the current budget which is the only place that these details are apparently laid out, if I have understood correctly.

4-22-06  Abington Citizens Network:

The Power Point presentation was delivered yesterday after mentioning at the  Board meeting that we had been  unable to get any figures. I also spoke with Mr Miccolo today & told him that the figures in the presentation may not be adequate to make any analysis as they cover just some parts of what would go into a cost analysis.  He assured us we could get additional information if we needed it once we look this over thoroughly.  We will also be trying to find out why RecycleBank has not been considered.  Recycle Bank has a program whereby residents are directly rewarded by way of coupons to local businesses for reaching higher levels of recycling.  We will be looking into this further.

4-3-06 Abington Citizens Network
We have  been trying ------ since March 4 --- to get the figures on the trash program so that we can see  for ourselves what the actual costs are. But we have been completely unsuccessful in a full month's time.  We asked Mr. Micciolo  in mid March to please let the facts of the program be known on the website and on Channel 43, but he continues to reach small groups of 50 to 150 in Town meetings instead, leaving those that can't attend  with no information at all. In probably less than an hour, the power point could be aired on Channel 43  and it could be faxed to the web firm which I believe we have on retainer.  We cannot get an answer as to why he will not do this. In the last conversation he has said it is a matter of time, but since then he has held more town meetings.  We understand that he is out of town this week. We would be glad to publish his answer here if he would share it, as soon as he returns. Channel 43 reaches over 13,000 homes and there are thousands and thousands more that have web access.  How we disseminate information represents our tax dollars at work.  How informed we are before major decisions are made is of huge concern to all taxpayers.

4-2-06   Posted by a resident:

Folks,    I continue to be cynical and skeptical of the half thought out plan. I still think that the real winners here are the trash truck and trash can salesmen! Any savings will be shifted and sifted through the budget process and disappear leaving the citizens of Abington paying more. But it will be shown to be statistically revenue neutral - some paying more and some paying less - except no one can find the ones paying less ... like the sewer bills.  The stated goals are, on the face, noble - increase recycling, reduce water weight, reduce labor cost and the result of a lower cost for all.  There are two sizes of can offered with a cost saving for the smaller can - good so far. What about a variable sized family ... in my cse three fourths of my family (and their trash) leave for other parts of the country for three months at a time. THat leaves me to be a geographic bachelor who eats out most days. During that period I put out trash (and recycling) but once a month because I generate so little. Where is my savings? Will I get a credit for unused but paid for capacity?  (Though my family goes to the Shore for the summer, the same applies to those 'snow birds' who fly South for the winter.)lel@abingtoncitizens.com)

-----Original Message-----
From: AbCitizens
Sent: Wednesday, March 29, 2006 10:51 AM
To: 'emicciolo@abingtonpa.gov'
Subject: RE: To Ed Micciolo - getting ALL the figures
Dear Mr Micciolo
   While I see that a good number of the questions that I  and other Abington residents are asking are addressed in your power point presentation, I hope you will agree that having them in “independent chunks”  and  having them flipped to the next slide before you could write down the first one does not allow residents any way of obtaining the correct information for analysis.  I missed for instance whatever you might have said about the NUMBER of new trucks and the cost of the new trucks & the expected maintenance costs.  I missed what the grant was originally for. I thought I understood you to say we obtained it two years ago - and I’d like to know if there was something we intended then that will not be done if you use this grant for these new programs. 
    I would like to have copies not just of what you have on the power point presentation, but any other relevant documents and figures that will help myself & other residents get a grasp on this.  And I would very much like you to copy me on any request that you make to the Commissioners to put this information on the website and on Channel 43 .  I know you told me earlier that you just haven’t found the time – but I would like to appeal to you to consider that you just don’t have the time to go to one more meeting with 100 to 200 people before you take steps the time to make the information available to 15 to 20,000   which will take substantially less time.  Further, the residents you address at any town meeting can then be referred to the web site and the TV broadcast if they, like I , were unable to write things down fast enough to get it the first time.
    These are our tax dollars that are being used to disseminate the information.  I would like them used in the most prudent way possible. Please let me know if the Commissioners do not give you permission to do this. We want to see our Township facilities and our tax dollars put to the best use.
Lora Lehmann


On Monday the 27th at a Roslyn meeting  - Ed Micciolo said he just got my email with the questions & would answer them
CLICK HERE TO SEE THE QUESTIONS - they're the same as the ones in the prior email



-----Original Message-----
From: AbCitizens
Sent: Friday, March 24, 2006 12:00 PM
To: 'emicciolo@abingtonpa.gov'
Subject: Ed Micciolo - Questions about trash

Hi Ed  

  Here are the questions that we need to see some answers to.  The best thing to do would be to publish them on the website and then to place a “bulletin” on the channel 43 scroll to tell residents it is there.  It would also be great to televise your next presentation & to air that on 43  with a placard or bulletin saying when it will air.  Then you could reach thousands of households instead of just a hundred or so at a time. One resident even suggested that these could be mailed to all with a place for a response on their part as to whther they approve & they could send it back .


Lora Lehmann
CLICK HERE TO SEE THE QUESTIONS that were included in the email



3-23-06  Abington Citizen's Network - someone just sent me an editorial that appeared March 1 in the Times Chronicle. In it, an Abington Resident said he had had the experience of driving behind one of these trucks  and thought that collecting from one side of the street actually  took longer than a current truck takes doing both sides.  This was echoed in Ted Taylor's article in the Times Chronicle yesterday .lel@abingtoncitizens.com)


3-17-06  Abington Citizens Network spoke with Ed Miccolo from the Township refuse dept . He has been fielding questions at Township meetings ( 7 of them so far) and just gave the Commissioners  a special presentation, but has not had time yet to prepare info for the website ( or, we might suggest, film one of the meetings for Channel 43.......) There will be another presentation in April. 
     When asked why  we needed the new program ( a lot of us think the current program works pretty well) he said he is trying to stabilize ever increasing trash dumping  prices. He believes the new program, where residents are confined to the size can they have chosen, will encourage residents to recycle more - in fact, he said he has seen a 20% reduction in trash already in the pilot area.   Another problem has been water weight from lid-less cans left out on rainy days . Water accounts for 7-20% of the weight of the trash at those times and the new cans will all have lids.   We spoke about the new trucks that would be needed and Mr Miccolo said he needs to buy new trucks anyway - the plan was to replace 6 trucks over 3 years .  There is apparently also a grant for about $570,000 in the picture.  
     One of the questions that has been brought up, is what happens when you have more trash than the containers you chose can hold?  Apparently there are several different possibilities and they have not decided which to choose yet . For instance, they might give out "blue bags " for you to use on days  that you have overflow.
     The plan is to stay with  pilot program until they decide - apparently all parts of the township will not be participating in the pilot program. After a time the Commissioners will be asked to decide, possibly 6-8 months from now.   I was not sure how I could participate in this decision or direct my Commissioner with my wishes, if I did not fully understand the details, facts and figures  or had not participated in the program.  I am hoping that a result of our conversation might be that we see the facts and figures published on the website soon.  I, for one, still have many questions. So I guess we will stay tuned for more info.  Your comments are welcome. 


3-11-06 Abington Citizen's Network :  There still has been no response from the township as to where & how to get some info on this since our March 4th email.

3-11-06  One thing I don't get is that it isn't really pay as you throw - and I'm not sure what I'm hearing will deter anyone or encourage them to recycle.  If you fill up 1/2 a container each week whether large or small you are paying just as much as the person who fills it all the way up.  My trash is different everyweek which is why I loved the freedom of this current  system - I thought it worked great. If the article in the newspaper ( which I haven't yet seen)  says that it will cost MORE - who did the double checking of the figures for us so we know that we are saving money - and how much are we saving?

3-8-06 Abington Citizens Network - How about  a program where someone helps those not recycling with reminders to do so -  A sort of "Rcycling Oversight" job for someone.\



3-8-06    One purpose of the trash pilot is that you can pick a smaller trash bin and pay less rather than have one size fits all (which most communities have). If this program goes into effect you can get the smaller 64 gallon bin and pay less, which is fair in my mind, or pay the flat rate for the 96 or get a extra bin and pay more. I observed my neighborhood and many fill the 96 to overflowing every week, but you can see the cardboard and bottles mixed in with the trash.  Anyway, you would have the option of getting a smaller bin and get a discount (I'm sure it will not be much of a discount). I don't even put out our bin every week since it isn't even half full. However, if Abington does nothing, we will ALL continue to pay higher and higher rates for trash removal.


3-6-06  Citizens Network :  There were quite a few meetings - I saw one on Feb 23 in my area - I couldn't make that  one - this resident  was probably also in the same "bin"  -  So now here's a question----the  township knows that only a handful of residents ever attend a meeting .  And OK mailings are expensive - they have mentioned some of the details in their standard mailings, but there is no way to ask questions.  But they have  a township website which could explain all of this  and they could publish the address of the web page  regularly in the papers and also put it prominently (on the front ) of their website.  I have emailed Jerry Vile on this resident's question on behalf of this resident to see if maybe there IS a page on the site about this  and I just can't find it.  Hopefully he'll get back to us soon. Though I'm sure it's been published, I can't recall if this is just a test or already voted & underway.


Posted: 3-6-06

This is not official information - but is another resident who has been to the meetings trying to help:

    Usually this is the first question that is heard at a meeting, as I have attended 4 of them. Either Ed Micciolo or Jerry Vile could answer that question in a variety of ways depending on the particular circumstance. For example, if it is Xmas time, the twp may do two pickups. If it is because of a party, there are various things the twp is looking at: let twp know there is extra trash and they will arrange to pick it up, or the twp may have special tags/bags for that type of thing: or they may have to wait until the next week to toss out the extra bag or two that don't fit in. There may also be one or two amnesty days for special pickups due to spring/fall cleaning.
        Since I am in the trash pilot program I could make some other suggestions. However, I ended up asking for a smaller bin as it would take our family of 4 a month to fill up the 96 gallon trash bin. We  fill maybe a third of the smaller 64 gallon bin. If someone consistently needs more than the large 96 gallon bin in one week they are not recycling because that is a great deal of trash they are generating, and if they need a second 96 gallon bin, they should pay for it rather than the rest of the twp residents who are actually recycling and decreasing the flow of solid waste. I have already told my neighbor that if they need to toss an extra bag in my bin they could, but they also asked for the smaller bin as they had trouble filling it up halfway. Upper Dublin uses this type of program and have seen there recycling go up and solid waste go down therefore helping keep prices lower than they would be otherwise. The thing that gets me mad is people who do not recycle much or don't reuse or resell or donate good items and instead put it in landfills and then want the people who don't do this, to subsidize them.


Posted: 3-1-06  

How about backing keeping Abington's trash collection system the way it is? The proposed new system will cost the residents more money, and what do people do if they have one week where they have a lot of trash, and have only one container that the new trucks can pick up? 



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