Discussions about a taxpayer-funded garbage collection will be revived for the third time in as many years if the assembly approves the commerce committee’s recommendation this week to reconvene the solid waste working group.

On Tuesday, the commerce committee discussed advancing a 2018 draft ordinance that would increase sales tax up to 1% to pay for public garbage collection. The draft ordinance narrowly failed after a 3-3 vote in August 2018. Although Mayor Jan Hill broke the tie in favor of the ordinance in an early reading, she was absent from the meeting during its final reading that resulted in the stalled vote.

Assembly members in opposition at the time said the ordinance was too vague and they weren’t willing to increase taxes without a clear plan.

Committee member Jerry Lapp said Tuesday that the ordinance needs to be considered again because such a system is needed in the community to, among other things, curb illegal dumping. He said he and his wife recently picked up trash around 25 Mile Haines Highway, an area notorious for illegal dumping.

“We picked up seven bags and we didn’t even get it all,” Lapp said. “Out there amongst the trees there are freezers, there are washing machines, there are tires, there’s everything else. You won’t have this happening if there was something like this (ordinance) in place.”

Committee member Gabe Thomas said he didn’t think the public would support a sales tax increase to pay for such a system. “I don’t see us moving it forward right now to the assembly,” Thomas said.

He suggested they table the discussion, and find a way to use CARES Act funding to help residents pay for utilities such as garbage collection.

Lapp and committee member Zephyr Sincerny said they’d like to see the assembly discuss the ordinance and give the public an opportunity to comment.

The committee ultimately decided to recommend the assembly revive the solid waste working group to review the ordinance and make a recommendation.

The working group met for several years and supported a sales-tax funded, borough-managed system that was estimated by borough staff to cost between $350,000 and $450,000 annually.

Assembly member Brenda Josephson told the committee said she would not support the ordinance as written because it was a takeover of a private company, Community Waste Solutions, and would cost the taxpayers more than $600,000.

“I will not support bringing this forward to the voters at this time…it’s not supported by the taxpayers,” Josephson said.

She also agreed that CARES Act funding could be used to help residents pay for garbage disposal.

Two members of the public, Diana Lapham and Barbara Mulford, spoke in support of advancing the ordinance to the assembly.

“I have felt that it’s been a can that’s been kicked down the road for much too long,” Lapham said. “Bring it before the assembly and let them discuss and see what public sentiment is.”

“The garbage that needs to be picked up is ours,” Mulford said. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong to say ‘We’re going to dedicate a sales tax to clean up our community.’ I think it should go before the assembly.”

The draft ordinance was also discussed last summer by the commerce committee and the assembly later deferred it back to the committee for discussion this year.