Bellaire City Council members are exploring alternative options to its longstanding garbage bag disposal program with the intention of having the public weigh-in on their preference during a future City Council meeting.

“Let’s revisit what’s been a longstanding policy and take a good look at it,” said Mayor Andrew Friedberg.

Majority of the council members, six out of seven, voted Feb. 20 in favor of a contract with New Jersey-based plastic bag supplier Central Poly-Bag Corp. to provide the city with polyethylene garbage bags. Council Member Brian Witt voted against it. While the contract, in full, totals more than $100,000, council members only committed to buying one purchase order out of three under the current contract.

That’s because council members agreed that they wanted an opportunity for residents to provide feedback on their experience with the city’s solid waste program. Council Member Ross Gordon called the city’s current program an antiquated system and brought up the idea of having trash bins versus trash bags and what that entails in terms of each option’s efficiency and cost.

“When we order our next garbage truck, for example, are we ordering a bin-loading truck or are we ordering a back-loader for trash bags? That I think is a really good budget discussion,” Gordon said.

For more than 20 years, Bellaire residents have paid the city for garbage bags, as part of their utility bill, which are then distributed three times a year. For fiscal year 2023, the city budgeted $101,438 for its garbage bags, and the contract approved on Monday was $106,845, a price point that was $5,000 over budget, according to the mayor. Inviting residents to weigh in on the discussion will help the city leaders get a better idea on what purchases will need to take place during the city’s next budgeting process in September.

“[The trash bags] are already budgeted. Residents are already paying for it in fiscal year 2023 on their utility bills. That’s not going to change,” Friedberg said. “Let’s look at this for 2024. Do we want to continue the program in next year’s budget or not?”