Sleepy Hollow: Garbage Can Sizes Matter (and Pricing Too)

Date: Tue, 29 Nov 2016 14:35:40 -0500
From: Daniel Convissor <>
To: Denise Scaglione <>, Glenn Rosenbloom <>, John Leavy <>, Ken Wray <>, Rachelle Gebler <>, Sam Gonzalez <>, Sandra Spiro <>
Cc: Anthony Giaccio <>, Sara DiGiacomo <>
Subject: garbage can sizing & pricing

Dear Mayor and Trustees:

I'm excited our new garbage truck has arrived. The Board's 11/22 work session discussed whether the garbage cans given to Manor residents should be 95 gallons or 65 gallons. Please note, more can size options are available. Letting residents pick their own can size now has big benefits for the Village.

The "sanitation" fees paid by Sleepy Hollow home owners and businesses are supposed to cover the costs of handling our trash and recycling. But the fees actually come up short around $200,000 every year. To make up the difference, the Village transfers about $200,000 (roughly 1.5%) of our property taxes to the sanitation budget.

This means we need to either be charged more for garbage collection or be encouraged to junk less stuff. Or, better yet, both, by billing owners for how much they throw out. Just like how the County charges the Village for each ton of garbage it dumps.

Oddly, the Village's current rate structure does the opposite. A single family home pays $45 every three months, while a two family pays $50, a three family $75 and a four family $105. Regular commercial establishments have it worse, paying $275 per quarter, regardless of how little they dispose of. But restaurants, which tend to generate large trash volumes, only pay $365.

Our current government policy says "Throw out as much stuff as you want. No problem!" But it is a problem, for our budget and our environment.

Right now is is the perfect time to fix this policy because we need to get the new cans. The fairest thing to do is let everyone choose the garbage can size appropriate for their needs. I picked a company for example, and they make the following "automatable" cans that can be picked up by the new garbage truck's side arm:

26 GAL [Ctzencart]
32 GAL [Mastercart]
64 GAL [Mastercart]
95 GAL [Mastercart]

The next step is to have people with smaller cans pay a smaller fee and people with larger cans pay a larger fee. On occasions where folks have extra items to throw out, they can purchase tags from vending machines. Potential locations for such machines could be Village Hall and the train station. The "friction" of having to obtain and pay for discarding excess materials encourages people to consider selling or donating usable items.

The industry calls this "Pay As You Throw" (PAYT). Though it'd probably be better named "Save As You Recycle." 42% of municipalities in New York use such pricing models. Variable rate systems reduce garbage tonnage by an average of 17%. That would have saved Sleepy Hollow $33,700 in tipping fees during Fiscal Year 2015-16, plus reduced our collection and hauling costs.

Better yet, these arrangements are very popular in communities that have implemented them, where over 90% of people are glad the changes were made.

Even if the administration is unable to take on the project of changing the pricing system now, we should still let residents pick their own can sizes. The letter about the choices should say the Village is considering variable fees for garbage collection in the future.

While these adjustments will be awkward for the Village, residents and shop owners alike, the long term financial and environmental benefits are worth the investment.

References / further reading:



More Sleepy Hollow information is available on the web, @DanielConvissor and #SleepyHollowNY