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Early returns of survey show Town of Lockport residents opposing garbage totes

LOCKPORT – Early returns from a postcard survey of Town of Lockport residents show that an overwhelming majority opposes using wheeled totes for weekly garbage disposal, Supervisor Mark C. Crocker said Monday.

The Town Board already has decided to upgrade the town’s recycling program next year, replacing 18-gallon bins with wheeled totes whose contents will be picked up every two weeks, a system that the City of Lockport has used since 2011.

The survey intended to determine, before the town seeks bids on a new garbage contract, whether totes would be used for regular weekly trash, too.

So far in the town, the public’s answer appears to be no, Crocker said.

Of the first 200 or so postcards returned, Crocker said, about 90 percent would prefer to keep the town’s current garbage disposal rules, allowing residents to place up to six bags or cans at the curb every week.

“Pretty much what we figured,” Councilman Paul W. Siejak said.

Crocker said the town has enough money, between $170,000 from the refuse fund surplus and an expected state recycling grant, to pay for the recycling totes without raising taxes. The town would have to buy about 5,400 totes at about $65 each.

Crocker said that about 90 percent of respondents to the survey so far prefer a 64-gallon recycling tote to a 96-gallon model.

However, buying totes for the weekly garbage would mean a tax increase. The garbage totes would cost about $75 each, so the town’s idea is to increase the annual garbage fee by $15 for each of the next five years if it buys totes at all, a move that residents so far seem to oppose.

The fee would rise from $185 to $200 if that happened, Crocker said.

If anyone wanted a second garbage tote, they would have to pay the full additional cost themselves up front, the supervisor said.

The Town Hall lobby saw a steady stream of residents Monday, checking out sample totes and asking questions of town officials. One resident, Sandra Few, said she opposes garbage totes not only because of the cost, but because the mechanical system of lifting and emptying them into garbage trucks would mean some garbage workers would lose their jobs.

Carol Walker, another resident, said she opposes totes. “I have my garage shelves built so my garbage cans would fit under them. These (totes) would never fit,” she said.

On the other hand, resident Dennis Steenburgh favors totes. “The wind gets into the cans and blows them all over the place,” Steenburgh said, adding that the same thing happens with the contents of the uncovered 18-gallon recycling bins.

Crocker said the deadline for returning the postcard surveys is May 13. The town will be seeking bids for a new garbage-disposal contract this summer. Its deal with Waste Management expires Dec. 31.