After protracted discussions, it looks as if Tonawanda is headed toward a townwide tote program for garbage.
The Town Board agreed during Monday afternoon's special work session to call a March 13 public hearing on the matter when it next meets Feb. 27.
That public hearing will be the third since the garbage law amendments were first proposed last month in an effort to curb rodent infestation.
When the proposed changes in the town's garbage-collection regulations were introduced, they would have required the totes for businesses and multiple-family dwellings only. The requirement for single-family residences would have been to use some kind of sturdy, covered containers.
But now the board's majority Democrats support the idea of mandating totes for all garbage collection. They agreed that it would be the most effective way to deal with the rat problem.
"I don't think a rat knows the difference between a four-unit and single unit," said Councilman John A. Bargnesi Jr. Early estimates indicate that a townwide totes program could cost as much as $2.3 million.
"We'll take some heat because of the cost, but in the long run, it'll benefit the town," said Councilman Daniel J. Crangle.
Bargnesi pointed out that there would be savings associated with the totes. The town would save at least $100,000 a year in tipping fees, he said, and there would be additional money saved through the reduction of work-related injuries to collectors.
"This program will probably pay for itself in about five years," he said.
The board's two Republicans do not want townwide totes, but they also cannot agree on an alternative.
Supervisor Ronald H. Moline prefers a townwide trash-container program. He has recommended that the amendments be revised to require all property to have covered containers, with businesses and apartment buildings being monitored for possible tote use.
But Councilman John J. Donnelly supports the amendments as they were introduced -- totes for business and multiple dwellings and covered containers for residents.
The town will now prepare to seek bids on totes.