MOUNT LEBANON (KDKA) — Trash — Americans generate a lot of it — and in suburban areas it’s a basic municipal responsibility, getting rid of the household trash for their residents.

“I’ve gotten more calls on trash than anything else,” Mt. Lebanon commissioner Dave Brumfeld told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Wednesday.

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Now Mt. Lebanon, which spends just $2 two million each year to haul away trash from 12,500 homes, is considering a way to shift that cost back to local residents under something called pay-as-you-throw.

Under the current system, Mt. Lebanon homeowners pay for their trash collection through general revenues, like their property taxes.

But under the pay-as-you-throw system, each homeowner would be assessed differently, depending on how much trash they actually put out on the curb.

“It’s a drastic change,” says Brumfeld.

But Brumfeld says there’s a big environmental upside.

Since the more household trash you generate the more you pay, that encourages recycling as recycle bins would be hauled away for free.

“Sounds equitable, but what about the money they have now?” asked Mt. Lebanon resident Lynne Blanning.

Brumfeld says the commission would cut the millage rate to reflect the $2 million cost being passed back to taxpayers.

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Delano: “What’s the guarantee that the next year and the next year and the next year, you don’t raise the millage back up again?”

Brumfeld: “Oh, there’s absolutely no guarantee.”

With lots of options under the pay-as-you-throw system from charging residents per trash bin, or requiring paid tags, or requiring special higher-priced trash bags, some residents say why fix something that works well.

“I do like the system the way that it is now,” says resident Lois Larry. “You don’t have to estimate how many containers am I going to have.”

Brumfeld says the commission needs lots of feedback before any change.

Blanning agrees.

“Don’t just go over their [the residents’] heads and decide one way or the other. Talk to them. People in Mt. Lebanon will let you know what they feel,” says Blanning with a smile.

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