CARRBORO -The Town of Carrboro has decided to hire a consultant for up to $30,000, for research into the feasibility of a Pay-As-You-Throw system for solid waste disposal.

“I specifically would be interested in – if we do go down the route and allocate this $30,000 for a study – that we look into Pay As You Throw, and continuing to pay for trash pickup through our general fund, but that we find a creative mechanism to credit neighborhoods as the way to incentivize them to produce less trash.”

That was Carrboro Alderperson Sammy Slade. He was describing his vision of a community model for a Pay-As-You-Throw system for trash disposal.

Carrboro has been intrigued with Pay As You Throw for years. The idea has been discussed at Aldermen meetings in 2003, 2006, 2007, and 2012.

But this time, they’re taking steps.

The idea behind Pay As You Throw is to incentivize recycling and other ways of reducing trash by charging citizens for trash pickup based on how much trash they throw away. The system is in place in thousands of communities across the U.S.

At Tuesday night’s meeting of The Board of Aldermen, Slade pushed for some action on Pay As You Throw, as well as composting, and recycling.

The question before the Board was whether to hire a consultant for $30,000 to help the town determine whether Pay As You Throw could work in Carrboro.

Alderperson Jacquelyn Gist had doubts about the system’s fairness to people that are getting squeezed financially.

“I think this is really regressive,” she said. “If people are going to be getting a bill now, it’s another utility bill. And to a lot of people, that’s real money.”

She said she also figured that it would mean that the more money you have, the more trash you can throw away.

Gist also wondered if property taxes would be reduced if the system was implemented. Otherwise, she added, the Town would just be “double-dipping.”

Slade responded to that and another concern of Gist’s about the possibility of trash pickup being canceled for people who couldn’t pay.

He said that under the community model he envisioned, the neighborhood, not the individual, would be penalized, simply by not getting reward credits from the town. Trash pickup, however, would continue.

“The savings are passed on, literally, as a credit to the neighborhood, for them to decide how to allocate those funds as they see fit, through what is also a different movement in this country, which is called participatory budgeting.”

The Board voted 5-to-1 to explore their options with the help of a consultant. Gist voted no.