BOS on Transfer Station rules and fees – Thursday

by beth on June 19, 2018

Post image for BOS on Transfer Station rules and fees – Thursday

Above: Selectmen will discuss this week what rates residents will need to pay to replace Transfer Station permit stickers that expire in September. Talk may touch on a promised, deeper look at longer term changes for funding the service. (image by Beth Melo)

On Thursday night, selectmen will discuss (and likely vote on) Transfer Station rules and regs for to be implemented this summer. Included in the draft is a fee increase they conceptually approved earlier this spring. It also includes a safety net suggested by another board to offset the burden for residents in need.

Prior to Annual Town Meeting, selectmen and the Finance team grappled with minimizing an increase to the Town’s budgets. The Finance team initially proposed eliminating Transfer Station expenses from the budget. 

Currently, the expenses are funded through a split between user fees and taxes. The change would have meant fully funding the station through increased user permit fees. It was likely to include a permit fee for residents over 65, who currently receive stickers for free.

After pushback from some selectmen, and found savings in other budgets, Finance withdrew the proposal for 2018-2019. But, selectmen agreed to make reevaluating the service a priority this year. They plan to look at how the station is run and funded to consider bigger changes down the road.

In the interim, selectmen agreed to back a budget plan that would eliminate the “early bird” discount for purchasing permits. It was pitched as a $30 change. In fact, it’s a $50 change from last year’s rate for all-access permits purchased in the summer. 

An agenda packet posted for this Thursday’s meeting includes the draft rules and regs for this year. It confirms elimination of discount periods, which also means a $25 increase for recycling only permits. Under the new plan, residents under 65 years old will pay $250 for an all access permit sticker and $75 for a recycling sticker. (For each of those, a sticker for a second vehicle is free. It’s an additional $25 per extra sticker beyond that.)

But, it also adds a potential out for residents who can’t afford the sticker fees. The Redlined draft proposes inserting the following language:

INABILITY TO PAY

i. Transfer Station Permit Fees may be waived upon recommendation by the Youth and Services Department or the Council on Aging Department.
ii. Any recommendation will be forwarded to the Town Clerk who currently processes payments and issues stickers. Any recommendation will be based on confidential circumstances that the two Departments (above) are familiar with.
iii. Recommendations are valid for one permit year at a time.

According to the cover memo, the change was requested by the Public Works Planning Board. The board also is looking to change how the Transfer Station is funded. But, in stark contrast to the Finance team’s proposal, they are again asking selectmen to slash user fees: 

The PWPB wanted to remind the Selectmen that their January 2014 report advised the Selectmen to incorporate the cost of the Transfer Station operations into the tax base. The PWPB is in favor of charging residents a nominal permit fee, to help keep track of who has permits, and also keep the process of obtaining a permit the same. The PWPB will be meeting with Brian Ballantine, the Chief Financial Officer, this summer to discuss how to incorporate this funding change.

Back in February, board members had split positions in principal as to how the service should be funded. You can read about their stances here. (That story also includes a recap and links related to the Public Works Planning Board’s past look at revamping the Transfer Station.)

You can see the draft rules and regs for this coming fiscal year here.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 southsider June 19, 2018 at 12:52 PM

$250 and growing higher in future years! yikes.

I’m not sure why we differentiate this service from other standard services like Parks, Police and Fire…

My opinion: cover the costs via property taxes plus the nominal fee being proposed by PWPB and I’d also suggest a few more dollars be found to staff the place for a few hours on Sundays. during the warmer months.

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2 Matthew June 19, 2018 at 2:08 PM

A commercial contractor dumps more than the average citizen. Will they still pay the same rate?
Seems like if they were serious about trying to find some more revenue to fund the transfer station that they would look at the very obvious places first. Instead it looks like someone has an agenda and wants to make it look difficult and expensive so to one day eliminate it altogether.
Next time you’re at the dump take a look and see how many commercial plates you see. Take a look at how much they’re throwing into the hopper. Imagine that they do that more than once a week and ask yourself why they get to pay the same amount the rest of us do.

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3 beth June 19, 2018 at 2:19 PM

There’s no change proposed for that this in the draft for this year.

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4 Lucy June 26, 2018 at 6:37 PM

Same as the split tax rate. They won’t do this because of the like of Capital, Brendan and Bartolini. What’s not good for them is not considered.

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5 Dean Dairy June 19, 2018 at 3:22 PM

a $25 increase for recycling only permits. Under the new plan…$75 for a recycling sticker.

I thought recycling is supposed to “pay for itself”?

Never mind the deposit bottle cage never has a named beneficiary where it says “your organization can be here.”

Who gets all that deposit money?

A shady operation all around.

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6 sboro92 June 19, 2018 at 8:38 PM

non-profits empty that bottle cage all year long. They contact the town, book the dates and empty the cage – usually during the week. (girl scouts, cub scouts, after school organization, etc.) And the town does process the check and it gets to them. The only reason you don’t see names on the tag is because no one bothers to take the time to put it up one week, only to have to change it in a couple weeks again.

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7 Concerned Voter June 19, 2018 at 6:34 PM

Agree entirely with Matthew’s comments above. On virtually every visit, one can observe COMMERCIAL contractors dumping entire truck beds of everything-you-can-imagine into the hopper. Huge amounts. Simply unbelievable.

BOS and Advisory: This absolutely has to be looked at and factored into THIS CURRENT YEAR’S DISCUSSION AND PLAN.

Thank you

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8 Ricky June 19, 2018 at 9:16 PM

Sell the transfer station land to a developer and have property taxes pay for curbside pickup? Used to live in Westwood and LOVED my curbside pickup!

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9 Mike June 20, 2018 at 9:19 AM

Agreed Ricky

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10 North Sider June 21, 2018 at 8:50 AM

With the cost going up it will eventually be worth it to just pay for your own curbside. In fact, if you never want to deal with the frustrating of the dump, pay $40/month and never have to go again.

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11 Louise Barron June 25, 2018 at 11:11 PM

I have never found the action of hauling the dirty, disgusting, smelly trash in my clean car a particularly enticing adventure, only to have some of it leak on my clean carpet. I’d rather grout my bathroom floor. I do use a trash pick up service, and recommend any service except for Republic. After using them for 20 years they have some serious customer service problems now. Stay away.

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12 Carl Guyer June 20, 2018 at 11:47 AM

The Southborough Recycling Committee vanished over five years ago, but during its lifetime it did advocate the town move to a Pay-As-You_Throw (PAYT) model as a means to encourage recycling and control costs at the Transfer Station.

Although there is mountains of information that this change would greatly help with good governance of the Transfer Station, it was met with a lot of “cultural” resistance coupled legions of excuses why it would not work. If you are interested in modifying cultural norms to reduce human impact on the environment, try being an advocate for PAYT.

Below is a link to a graphic that was produced back in 2012 to help illustrate how Southborough’s policies at the Transfer Station have made the town a leader in per capita trash generation and while having a lack luster recycling rate.

Aside from the Recycling Committees efforts, there is the issue of giving everyone over 65 a free sticker. Now this joke is getting a little old, but I like to point I am in the over 65 category now, but two years ago I bought my wife a Mercedes for Christmas yet I get a free sticker. (You are suppose to laugh at me for making such a joke, but the joke is on those paying those forced to pay over $200 for a sticker to make up for the shortfall created by all the free stickers.)

We give out something close to 800 free stickers when the total population of stickers is between 2500 and 3000 stickers. That certainly drives up the cost to those under 65. Seems unfair to me.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1teG0e5uVyke6PJ54m-9Rtvq-W7vIP3aN/view?usp=sharing

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13 sboro92 June 22, 2018 at 8:42 PM

I’m glad that you are in a position to be able to afford a transfer station sticker even though you do get a free one. Donate your $200+ sticker money to the Southborough Senior Center. I personally know a lot of seniors in town that have been here their whole lives and they struggle every day to pay their property taxes (even with their discount), put food on their table and pay for medications. They don’t all have children who can help them either. So I gladly pay for my $200+ transfer station sticker because I can afford it and maybe some day, when I’m 85 I’ll be glad to have a free sticker.

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14 M June 20, 2018 at 12:31 PM

Who does one see to get a breakdown of income and expenses of the Transfer Station operation? I have commented many times on this and wonder if this information is available and SEPARATE from the Highway Dept total budget. If BOS wants to tells us that it is losing money as is, then show us in detail. Which of the Town departments currently use the transfer station and what would it cost them to get a hauler? How does disposal of our Town’s trash in its normal operations change if there’s nowhere to put it? And how do we compare one public service against another to see if they are profitable or worth a tax increase or added fee? Sanitation for the town is not a luxury. It is a public good.

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15 beth June 20, 2018 at 12:44 PM

I had linked a story that had more background from earlier this year. That included a link to the report by the Public Works Planning Board a few years back. They did look at the expenses of running the station and impacts of alternative funding options: http://www.mysouthborough.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/PWPB-Transfer-Station-Report-2014.pdf

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16 SD June 20, 2018 at 12:40 PM

Agree 100% with the comments above. Again to my comments in other threads, why are our taxes so high while we get charged insane amounts for basic services. I don’t get this town and the decisions that are made.

Side bar, Has anyone seen the trash that was recently dumped on Flagg Road? Why hasn’t the town picked that up? Trash bags fulls of household trash and beer cans, ripped open and left on the road and have been there for almost a week.

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17 North Sider June 21, 2018 at 8:51 AM

The town doesn’t do pick up for anyone, not sure why they’d pick this up either. Kind of sad!

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18 resident June 20, 2018 at 2:22 PM

Some thoughts
1) Abolish Free Stickers for 65+, it is a joke in sboro.
2) Contractors & Commercial plates should pay a higher price, can’t we reason it.
3) Open just the dumping station for a couple of hours on Sunday.

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19 Lucy June 26, 2018 at 6:45 PM

This is spot on unless you really truly need the sticker. Won’t happen the plus 65 vote though

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20 Trixie June 20, 2018 at 3:54 PM

Oh sure, now that we are getting close to 65, the free stickers are going away. But seriously I would be happy to pay a reduced fee or even a full fee if it means we don’t have PAYT. That trash on Flagg Rd probably came from a PAYT town.

I also agree with the higher prices for contractors. Are we still issuing fines for no/expired stickers? I haven’t heard anything on that recently.

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21 Carl Guyer June 20, 2018 at 6:14 PM

Did you read the part were a I said there were legions of excuses why PAYT won’t work. This is a classic.

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22 southsider June 26, 2018 at 5:26 PM

I love the discussion… and hope people running the town are reading it.

A few hours open on Sunday would be most welcome.
A higher sticker price for commercial plates makes sense.
A small fee for seniors who can afford it is probably palatable.

Will we be asked to pay for street plowing next? or maybe police and fire coverage?
Will my neighbors and I be charged if we want a pothole fixed???
Come on… this is simply another town service and it s/b covered by prop taxes.

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