Pay-as-you-throw fee scale may shift to residents’ favor

Draft Bill 2551, known as “Pay As You Throw,” is being proposed as a method to increase recycling and divert waste from the landfill. We agree with this concept and acknowledge that many of our residents already participate in this process. Almost every household recycles cans and bottles, and it is very common to see people, especially our kupuna, making the rounds at the parks and beaches to collect these items.

The timing of PAYT is specious however, and appears to focus more on revenue-generating motives that unfairly target our residents. If the recycling component was the primary focus, why is it that only residents are asked to bear additional costs for the same service and nonresidents, businesses and transient vacation rentals are not?

Both classes―residential and nonresidential properties should be treated the same.

Under the bill, residents are penalized if they continue to use the same 96-gallon bin by being charged an additional $9 a month, increasing the fees from $12 to $21, a whopping 75 percent increase, totaling $252 a year for this service! Yet, businesses and TVRs who pay $84 a month for the 96-gallon bin are charged a 0 percent increase to maintain status quo.

Both residential and nonresidential properties should not be charged extra for services they currently enjoy.

Many have approached us when they read that this bill was unanimously approved for first reading as a sign that we were succumbing to increased taxes.

This is absolutely not true. We approved the first reading of DB 2551 for one reason only — to have the opportunity to introduce an amendment when it reaches the committee.

We aim to preserve the true intent of PAYT, which is to incentivize recycling. DB 2551, as currently written, seems punitive to us, and seeks to simply raise revenues by imposing more costs on our most vulnerable victims ― our residents.

To remove this disparity, we will be introducing an amendment at the committee meeting for residential properties that will be similar to what is being offered to nonresidential properties. Under current DB 2551, businesses will keep rates the same for the 96-gallon can, and will pay less, $64 to use a 64-gallon bin.

Likewise, our amendment will keep the same rates for residents, and lower the monthly fee to $9 for the smaller 64-gallon bin.

We remain concerned about the number of revenue generating taxes and fees that continue to be introduced at the council. We stand committed to try and maintain a balance of spending cuts and tax/fee increases.

Unfortunately, in recent months, the scales are tipped. All increases and no proposed cuts. That simply cannot continue.

Mel Rapozo and Ross Kagawa are members of the Kauai County Council.


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