Manchester will join Nashua in having automated trash pick-up as early as next spring. After a lengthy debate Tuesday evening, the Board of Mayor and Alderman approved the pilot program, by a vote of 7-to-6, for the northwestern and eastern parts of the city.
The pilot program will require residents in Wards 6, 7 and 12 to use a specific automated trash barrel. Half the cost of each barrel will be paid by the city, half by the homeowner. Each truck will automatically lift the carts and will be manned by one worker instead of three. If the program is deemed a success after one year, the board hopes to expand it to five of the city’s nine trash routes.
Mark Gomez, the city’s environmental programs manager, stressed the program will not result in layoffs.
“We want to take those individuals who are no longer needed to collect trash and move them into other positions in the department, for which they are already qualified, for which they will get paid at least as much if not more and are much safer positions," Gomez told the alderman.
These jobs include cleaning up parks, fixing potholes, and helping patrol for illegal dumping.
Besides making the city cleaner, those in favor of the program say it will reduce workers’ compensation claims, which on average costs the city nearly $300,000 annually.
But those who voted against it worry residents will end up having to pay more for their trash removal as people's garbage won't always fit in the specified barrels. Several alderman were also concerned about having residents bear the cost of the barrels, which run from $65 to $75 each. Originally the pilot proposal called for the city to pay the full price tag, which officials estimate will cost around $75,000 in total.