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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis Department of Public Works collects more than 400,000 tons of garbage each year.

Public Works said much of the garbage they collect is left outside of the green containers provided by the city.

The Save Money and Reduce Trash (SMART) program, or ‘pay as you go’ program, would only charge citizens for the trash they use, but some city council members said this isn’t the right move.

Councilwoman Wanda Halbert spoke out against putting the city’s budget problems on the backs of Memphians.

Halbert said the solution to budget woes is too often aimed at cutting services, raising taxes, or charging fees.

A SMART program or pay as you throw program is probably the most equitable system that we can implement, Dwan Gilliom, director of the Department of Public Works, said.

“Obviously you only pay for what you utilize. If you’re only pushing your cart to the street every two weeks, you don’t have any concern,” Gilliom said.

Public Works will be $10 million in the hole by next year, and taxes would need to rise no matter what.

The SMART program is city leaders’ way of trying to help ease the pain.

Public Works said one of their biggest challenges is curbside trash, like tree trimmings and extra bags of garbage.

Gilliom said the concept is simple — the more trash you throw out, the more you pay.

The proposal remains in the early stages.

The city council wants Public Works to come back with more details on how much this could potentially cost residents.

A spokesperson told WREG: “It’s not a cut and paste program, but one that evaluates the Solid Waste issues unique to the location, provides recommendations related to collection and disposal ordinances, ways to reduce the cost of collection, and distribute those costs equitably. The goal is a sustainable revenue within the expectations of our customers.”