FARRICKER: PAYT Is a Tax Increase of Another Color

Submitted by Frank Farricker

Recently, the First Selectman proposed “Pay as You Throw” (PAYT) , a trash collection system that would ask residents to purchase approved Greenwich trash bags. In his announcements, Mr. Camillo indicated that without PAYT, taxes will increase in fiscal year 2021 by 3.42%.

Simple mathematics tell you that PAYT is just a tax increase of another color.

Assuming that each family throws out merely 2 bags of garbage a week on average – including recycling – all households will be looking at a $208 annual bill. With an average household tax bill of $9,000 a year, simple math tells you that taxpayers are looking at a 2.3% Town mandated increase.

Ironically, very similar arguments for PAYT have been applied to Gov. Lamont’s drive to toll our roads. With an attempt to sell tolls as “user fees” (UF), Governor Lamont has told us that these UF’s will keep our taxes low, notwithstanding that when cars were being considered for tolling, at the lowest projection the UF would cost a Greenwich resident anywhere from $355 – $960 a year if they traveled the highways an average way, which is about a 7.5% governmentally mandated increase – not including the vaunted “out of state trucks”.

Both plans were presented to the electorate as being environmentally friendly, as PAYT will allegedly make residents throw less out because they would incur further costs, and UF would lower pollutants because drivers would think more strategically about where and when they choose to drive. Each promises their plans are the optimum way to manage long-neglected problems. In my opinion, both are wrong.

Communities have some basic requirements. Most critically is that the services that maintain our standard of living are provided equally and professionally. PAYT and UF are sold as equality, but in fact they are regressive. Connecticut politicians, not unreasonably, have been convinced that the specter of raising taxes is such a negative that they do not want to risk their reputations as a “tax-raiser”. So instead, they propose a different kind of tax that falls most difficultly on the less affluent.

Tolls and bag costs are a nuisance to the wealthier families, but a real threat to the poorer families. If there is a problem paying for basic and necessary services it must be borne by the community as a whole, equitably and effectively. It is up to our elected officials to show real leadership and renounce political tropes and find solutions that are good for all, and they exist. Clipping off regressive fees is neither sustainable nor fair.