The cost of garbage bag tags in Owen Sound is not going up, for the next few months at least.
City council voted at its meeting Monday to delay making a decision until April on an operations committee recommendation to increase the cost of a bag tag by a quarter this year to $2.75 each, in order to have a more complete discussion on waste management that will include consideration of a source separated organics program.
Last month, the operations committee recommended council raise the price from $2.50 to $2.75 for each bag tag in 2020 -- in part to help bring the garbage collection program closer to cost neutral.
The resolution to put off a decision on the proposed increase came as Coun. Richard Thomas gave notice he will move a motion at council's next meeting to ask for staff to provide a report with options for the creation of a source separated organics program in Owen Sound, focusing on using an increase in the cost of bag tags to fund it.
In 2015, city council opted against a source separated organics program when dealing with its waste management contract as it would have added about $280,000 in annual costs, according to a past city staff report to council.
"I think if we're going to seriously look at increasing bag tags, they were originally implemented in Owen Sound as a deterrent to putting garbage out," Thomas says. "And I'm not completely certain people are deterred from doing that. I think a lot of people are still just putting their garbage out in the same old way."
"I'd just like to see us take a closer look at it and really make it worth something," continues Thomas. "If we're going to increase it."
Coun. Scott Greig was the only councillor to vote against the deferral of a decision on the proposed bag tag hike.
"I thought council could have made a decision on the price of the bag tags tonight, and we could still revisit it in three months as part of a more elaborate discussion on source separated organics," Greig says.
Bag tags were first implemented in Owen Sound in 2009 and initially cost $2 each. The last time the city increased the price was in 2015, to the current rate of $2.50 each.
Maintaining the price of bag tags at $2.50 each is expected to result in a shortfall of over $46,000 this year for the program, according to a report from Owen Sound's Director of Public Works and Engineering Dennis Kefalas.
Council will vote on Coun. Thomas' notice of motion concerning source separated organics at its next meeting.
If approved, a staff report is expected to take about three months to complete.
It's anticipated any potential increase in the cost of bag tags will be re-visited by council in late April.