LISBON — Residents packed a Town Council meeting Tuesday night for a discussion on a proposal for a pay-per-bag trash program to offset the increased cost of running the transfer station.

Many townspeople have complained about the recent increase in the transfer station annual permit from $10 to $25 for one vehicle and from $5 to $25 for each additional vehicle.

The fees were raised to help compensate for rising costs at the station and the loss of revenue from recycling. These changes are being felt throughout the country, in large part because China has stopped buying materials to be recycled.

“Municipalities all over the country and the state are having to change the way residents are charged for disposal from household trash to bulky waste,” Public Works Director Randy Cyr said in presenting the proposal.

Under the initial proposal, the pay-per-bag fee would be $1.50 per 30-gallon bag, and permit fees would be eliminated.

Cyr said a key aspect of the pay-per-bag program is that it would encourage recycling, because recyclables could be dumped for free at the station and would reduce the amount of trash going into the bags. In addition, the town has launched a composting program, in which people can obtain 5-gallon buckets and dump food waste separately at the transfer station.

Resident Richard Maines praised the pay-per-bag proposal as more equitable than the current system, because some people generate more trash than others, yet pay the same annual fee for a permit to dump trash at the station.

“I appreciate the fact that you are considering this, because the other way is really unfair — unfair to those people who are diligent and try to help in reducing the cost and the waste in the community” by recycling, Maines said.

However, many residents voiced concerns that buying special bags would likely be inconvenient. They said they preferred the permit fee to be raised if necessary, rather than having to move to the pay-per-bag system.

Others questioned whether the proposed $1.50-per-bag charge could be lower. Some also raised concerns about the negative impact of the bag fees on low-income residents. Others suggested waiting to see what impact the increased permit fees will have on the budget before making additional changes.

Councilor Kasie Kolbe said it was the best-attended workshop in her four years on the council.

“We’re getting some great feedback tonight,” she said.

“I’m pretty excited about that,” Councilor Norm Albert said.

He stressed that all ideas are on the table at this point.

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