To the editor:

Currently, the City of Portland provides 2,400 residential customers only trash pickup and curbside recycling.

Yes, there has never been a charge to residents for trash pickup. In 2017, the city spent $143,000 in landfill charges; and in 2018 we are approaching $155,000.

At the same time, these 2,400 households have curbside recycling available to them. This is a separate cost to them on the utility bill, and in 2017, the city paid out $121,000. In 2018, the city is approaching $132,000.

Based on what we know now, by 2020 the city’s trash and recycling cost will be nearing $300,000 in total.

The “skill set” that city officials have been reviewing is, do we consider several options:

•Combining trash and recycling and contract it out.

•Continuing trash collection by the city as usual.

•Doing away with curbside recycling altogether.

•Attempting to find a fair way to come up with a trash and recycling fee to charge, either added to the utility bill or through a property tax charge.

However, both business and industry do not receive trash pickup or curbside recycling, so is it fair to spread the cost out on the property tax rate or utility bill for those who will not receive the benefit? Of course not.

City officials are taking a step back, looking at the big picture, long term, instead of being reactive and short-sighted.

What you do not know is that just a few weeks ago we could say that 80 percent of all trash could be recycled. Now we know because of tariffs and China not taking any U.S. recycling anymore, cardboard and glass are the only items that have recycling value. Most of what we would now consider as recycling will probably go back to all trash.

We also know that in several places the recycling companies are going back under current contracts and asking to renegotiate fees to double and triple the previous rates.

As good stewards of the taxpayers’ money, we have taken our time and evaluated all of our options. Yes, it is not “rocket science,” but we also know that even in the short run a “bit of a fee” for each trash bag is probably not realistic.

If you are suggesting we keep track of each bag collected, how do you propose we do this? In the long run, this is not the answer.

In the meantime, Best Way has agreed to extend its current contract until the end of October while we work through a fair and cost-effective solution for both trash and recycling.

Randy D. Geesaman

Mayor of Portland