AUBURN — City councilors will see plans to purchase new trash and recycling bins, and return to weekly recycling collections in their spring budget discussions.

Councilors heard a report at their workshop meeting Tuesday from a solid waste subcommittee on options for replacing the current twice-monthly collections.

The group recommended switching to an automatic system and hiring a contractor to use a single truck to collect trash and recycling curbside weekly.

But Chairwoman Camille Parrish admitted the group did not recommend requiring residents to purchase special trash bags because they felt it would be unpopular with residents and councilors.

“We discussed it at length, and the committee had some very positive things to say about it,” Parrish said. “But we were afraid of bringing it forward because there might be enough opposition that the council might backtrack and not even accept the automated system. So (we) decided to recommend it as a contingency.”

The city picks up solid waste curbside weekly. Recycling is collected two times each month. The city started the twice-monthly recycling program in 2011, with less-frequent collections meant to save money.

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Councilors voted last spring to preserve the city’s twice-monthly curbside recycling collections as they are operated now, with the understanding that services would expand in 2015.

They created a committee to review options, and the group considered four — keeping the current system in place, going to an automatic system, charging for bags or going to an automatic system and also charging for bags.

According to the report, continuing the current program would cost the city $13.2 million over 10 years. The automatic system would cost the city an estimated $11.1 million, while the bag system would cost the city $5 million.

A combined system which uses trucks to collect the trash and requires residents to use special bags would cost the city $3.5 million over 10 years.

Councilor Adam Lee said the combined option was obviously the best deal. He wanted more information on that program.

“We should be aware that the only reason you are not recommending something that is the best-case scenario is because of the politics of it,” Lee said.

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Councilor Leroy Walker agreed that the paid-bag system was worth scrutiny as long as the city vetted the numbers. But Councilor Belinda Gerry said she would never accept charging residents for trash bags.

“I will never support ‘pay as you throw,’ but I will accept the bin concept, as long as they are a size that all residents can handle,” Gerry said.

Most councilors agreed. The automatic collection proposal will be presented as part of the fiscal year 2015-16 budget.

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