It’s going to cost more to throw out your trash next year. Selectmen last night unanimously approved an increase in the cost of a transfer station sticker, from $110 to $140 annually.
The suggestion to increase the fee came from Selectman John Rooney as part of a scheduled annual review of transfer station rules and regulations. Rooney said he research towns of similar size and discovered Southborough’s rates were much lower.
“I’m not looking to extract as much as possible from each family, I’m just looking to bring us in line with other communities,” Rooney said.
DPW Superintendent Karen Galligan told Selectmen the transfer station operates at a deficit. She said the transfer station cost about $350K per year to run, significantly more if you factor in insurance and the cost of capital items. Last year the town took in about $240K from the sale of transfer station stickers.
Raising the cost of a sticker by $30 per year is expected to bring in an additional $63K in revenue annually.
Rooney said given the dismal fiscal outlook for the town, every little bit will help. “I’m trying to project ahead to where we’ll be next April. Perhaps some small steps along the way will help minimize the pain,” he said.
Selectman discussed whether they should charge for second stickers, which are currently provided at no cost, but ultimately decided against it. A third sticker will still cost you $50. Senior citizens will continue to receive their first two stickers at no cost.
Selectman Bill Boland was initially lukewarm on the idea of raising rates, but in the end voted with the other two selectmen to do so. “A lot of people look at this as you can’t tax me more, so you’re going to charge me more in fees,” he said. “I’m not a big proponent of raising fees at a time when people are struggling to pay their taxes.”
The last time transfer station fees were changed was in 2007. Prior to that point, the first sticker cost $100 and a second sticker cost $50.
Rooney said several of the towns that charge more than Southborough have transfer stations that are open fewer hours. Boxborough charges $100 for the first car and $50 for the second and is open only on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Littleton charges as much as $300 per household and is open three days per week.
Southborough’s transfer station is open Wednesday through Saturday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm each day.
“I know some people want us open longer hours,” Boland said. “But I believe four days at ten hours gives people the most opportunity.”
I don’t have a problem paying the extra money to off set the cost. But I do however have a problem with the hours of operation. Wednesday – Saturday is not enough. I and so many other folks I have talked with would like to see a Monday opening.
I agree. I would even give up Thursday for Monday. Weekends generate a lot of trash and it becomes a problem, especially in the summer, when you have to wait more than three days to dispose of it.
I just don’t understand why more citizens of the town don’t help lower these expenses by recycling more and disposing of less! Many of us do it and you can do it once you get in the habit! Children in the family can help out with this and you can turn the whole activity into many a math lesson about real life issues. The recycling committee has been trying to get more people into this habit, but maybe it will take hitting them in the wallet to make them realize the importance, environmentally as well as financially!
You may have been able to avoid this increase by following the requests to please recycle!
We could recycle till the cows come home and we’d still get this fee increase. It raises money for the town and that’s what it’s ALL about. Here…let me just sign over my paycheck….
“The suggestion to increase the fee came from Selectman John Rooney”
The Honeymoon period is officially over. One week on the job and we already have an increase to something, which as presently constituted, is run poorly. Have any studies been conducted to see when residents would like the dump open? It’s not the $30 increase that gets me, its the fact that nothing was done to examine a better alternative before hiking the fee. More likely then not, working folks use the dump at various points on Saturday. I’ve always thought it made sense to shutter the dump Wednesday and perhaps even Thursday, while adding in a 4 hour period Sunday morning, 8-12. The Sunday overtime costs for our great DPW workers could be covered by the weekday closures. But instead lets just do nothing and raise the fees. Ugh.
so for the extra $63,000 in fees, we can’t spend some piece of it and open the transfer station on Sunday? or Monday?
It’s nice that there’s a new sense of ‘openness’ to our BoS but it still seems they aren’t hearing us!
I think the age for seniors should be raised to 70yrs. old or they should have to pay 1/4 – 1/2 of what everyone else pays. How many of them now who get free stickers have homes in FL., drive luxury cars or still work? They can afford to pay up and offset some of the cost. Those with a hardship would have to prove they have a hardship and I know there are plenty. Seniors have just as much trash as the workin folk, why should they not have to pay at least something?
Thank you to Ms. Fitzgerald for attending last night’s meeting and for keeping everyone updated on the discussions.
Obviously, raising fees or taxes is not something anyone desires. The economic reality is that many people are faced with expenses that exceed incomes. The singular reason for my suggested increase of the transfer station fee was because we need to find ways to increase revenue throughout the year and thereby avoid, or at least reduce, the shortfall of revenue witnessed at this past Town Meeting. Faced with budgetary expenses exceeding revenue, voters at Town Meeting were faced with the choice of increasing taxes or removing money from the Stabilization Fund. Voters overwhelming supported dipping into the Stabilization Fund for approximately $417,000.00 to make up for the revenue deficit. I voted in favor of that action, but it was a one-time measure and I do not believe that people would be receptive to a similar vote next year. By focusing on the expense/revenue gap now, the goal is to shrink that gap throughout the year. If we wait until the budgeting process begins, the options become much more restricted.
Finally, the comments above, which, parenthetically, are heard, posit questions concerning the transfer station’s hours of operation. Those are valid questions that likely have consequences beyond just closing one day and opening another. I would encourage everyone to visit the Town’s website prior to the Board of Selectmen’s meetings on Tuesday nights and view the posted agenda. Public participation is vital in the decision making process. A public comment section has been added to the end of every Board meeting, and there are neither topical nor temporal restrictions imposed. The vehicle of accomplishment is fueled by teamwork. It is not a team of three, but a team of all residents striving toward the same objective. No one has a patent on having all of the correct answers, and diverse input can cause one to rethink or change his or her original opinion. So please, attend and participate.
You can find the meeting dates and the posted agendas at: http://www.southboroughtown.com
We cannot have it both ways fellow residents. Cutting our budget, increasing our
revenues and trying to head off an upcoming fiscal crisis for this town is going
to be quite painful. If there were an easy fix than anyone of us could have run for
BOS and be hailed a hero for fixing the budget. These are hard, unpopular decisions to be made. Someone will always feel the target or victim here. It was just reported that surrounding towns of similar size charge more and are open less! It’s that simple.
We charge less, are open more and run at a deficit…….you do the math! Stop the darn whining and go to these meetings and come up with some possible alternatives!
Like I said, we cannot have it both ways. We cannot kick and scream about an
unbalanced budget yet vote, for example, not to cut the library budget because a few
people speak at town meeting on the verge of tears (can we put it in perspective here?
we were not voting to CLOSE the library and we most likely could have been granted a
a waiver so we would not have lost inter-library privalages). Can’t we try and be creative and resourceful while we trim down the budget? We could, I believe, have survived the library cuts. I am not trying to pick on the library here….. just making a point that this process will not be easy. Budget cuts, service cuts and fee increases will never be easy but may be necessary.
These responses anger me when the first of many difficult decisions are
being made in our town to address our fiscal issues and people cannot wait to blame the “BOS for not hearing us”, to blame the so called “plenty of seniors who have homes in Florida or drive luxury cars or still work” and get free stickers or “the honeymoon period is officially over”. For goodness sake…..did you think we were
going to Disney after the election??? I know I voted for John Rooney to help jump start the BOS into making some tough decisions this town needs to face up to.
Did you not read the financial overview the BOS put out at Town meeting?
Budget cuts, fee increases, cuts in services……….it all stinks, but it is a sign of
the times. We had better get used to it and perhaps find creative ways through it
instead of wasting time whining about it.
I’d like to see Mr. Rooney’s actual comparative “research” about sticker fees in other towns. You know, in some towns they actually come to your house and take the trash, and I don’t think property taxes are appreciably higher in those towns. For instance, in his home town of Waltham and Watertown there is no sticker fee — and they pick-up your trash curbside!
Rooney: “The singular reason for my suggested increase of the transfer station fee was because we need to find ways to increase revenue throughout the year and thereby avoid, or at least reduce, the shortfall of revenue witnessed at this past Town Meeting. ”
Maybe I missed it, but did Mr. Rooney say anything remotely like this during his campaign?
Does anyone have a link to a breakdown of the Transfer Station budget? If I were a politician asking for more money, that’d be the first thing I present to tax payers so that they know exactly what they were getting and at how much cost.
The elderly get discounts? Instead, couldn’t senior “volunteers” staff the transfer under an existing program in Mass that allows for reductions in property taxes for retirees in exchange for such municipal work? How much of the labor cost is personnel just checking to see if the vehicles dropping trash have stickers? Do these have to be full-time town employees?
At least try to convince us that you’ve tried to think outside the box, man. Rooney by his own words (“we need to find ways to increase revenue throughout the year”) sounds like a stealth candidate who came to office with an agenda to hike fees.
Meet the new boss, same (worse?) than the old boss.
I agree with LMH. Why not think about raising the “senior citizen” age to 70 or have them pay for a reduced fee for the dump sticker. Why not charge for a 2nd sticker like in the past? A few years ago, it would have been $150 ($100 for the 1st, $50 for the 2nd) if you wanted two stickers. Now it is $110, soon to be $140, for two stickers because the 2nd one is “free”.
As for the research on stickers for other towns, I know that Framingham is significantly less for their dump stickers AND they have curbside pick up.
Since we pay by the ton – much of the cost of operating the Transfer Station is paying for all that tonage! The more we recycle the less the town has to pay.
Good question, Deb. The answer is in a post I did a few weeks ago on Southborough’s recycling rate:
So, the revenue we get from stickers covers the tonage, but not much more.
I agree that we should pay for what we use and we should try to use less. Fees that are not optional annoy me because they are really taxes in disguise. It’s my understanding that if one hires a contractor to haul trash, they still have to pay – so unless I am missing something, this is a 100% mandatory fee. If everyone has to do it, then why isn’t it built into the property taxes?
The hours do need an overhaul. I for one would love to see Sunday hours, even if just 1:00 – 5:00 PM.
FWIW, I believe a couple years ago they did away with the requirement that you had to purchase a sticker even if you have a private contractor haul your trash.
Thisis simply a tax. Didn’t take long for Roooney, who I voted for, to get into the swing of things. The twisted logic of Sobo fees being lower than elsewhere does not stand up to scrutiny. Maybe using that flawed logic, MA income taxes should be the same as those in NJ. Once folks get into politics, they’re all the same. Tax and spend. Very disappointing. We elected this guy for change.
Are you kidding me Neil R.? You are going to throw this guy under the bus
for this very first decision regarding ……….transfer station fees? Your reaction is
one of those reasons why people shy away from public service positions
in this town….”the no win no matter what you do” strategy. You seem to find more
joy in finding the negative and finding fault than in coming up with real answers.
Glad you’re not running my business or company or classroom ….or anything for
that matter. Anyone can complain, gripe and find fault but it takes a real thinker
and sometimes courage to try and deliver change.
Some towns with curbside pickup now limit the amount of trash hauled to one contain-
er. Anything beyond that the homeowner has to haul and pay a fee for disposal.
Since Southborough is paying for haulage by the ton, charge people by the amount of
trash they generate! My family recycles. we have one small bag of “trash” to dispose
of weekly. The rest is recycled. Let those who refuse to recycle pay for their habit.
Stop encouraging their wasteful lifestyle by “taxing” those who recycle.
$110 or $140 is cheap if/when one generates hundreds of pounds of refuse in a week.
Why should those discarding 5 lbs.pay the same fee?
Mr. Rossen, I take it you are against increases in taxes and fees (and I might agree with you).
The question then is, what would you cut from our Town’s budget so your taxes stay down? It’s not a trick question — at some point something is going to have to go, and I presume you have a suggestion.
It’s easy to gripe, and you’re good at it, but griping without more serves little purpose.
Mr (?) Choices, I prefer responding to those that are not anonymous. However, I suggest that you go to http://groups.google.com/group/southboroughtax?hl=en and join the group. If you go through the older posts (there are 87 – well summarized) you will see plenty of suggestions. I welcome you and any others to this group which currently numbers 32 taxpayers.
One way to make those who don’t recycle pay for their wasteful trash disposal is a “pay as you throw” program.
These programs are usually controversial and Southborough has historically encountered opposition in attempting to implement one.
Municipalities which put these in place see a marked reduction in refuse tonnage.
Maybe it’s time that Southborough residents make changes that will help our bottom line and the environment!
Yes, it’s time to reconsider pay as you throw. It ends the subsidy that recyclers currently give to non-recyclers.
“Pay as you go” would be a great way to increase recycling and charge for disposal at the appropriate rate per household. Can we find out how hard/expensive it would be to implement? I have to imagine that our entire system would have to be revamped?
Usually, the mechanism is that you have to buy special bags, often yellow and usually too thin to be used alone, for use in the hopper. Recyclables don’t need the special bags.
The problem is that some people may try to dispose of trash improperly. The fact that enforcement may be needed is a drawback. This does work better with curbside pick-up, since the sanitation workers can simply leave behind trash that’s not in the special bags, and thus no enforcement is needed.
Large items don’t work in this system. Maybe a reader who knows more than I do can comment about them.
I recycle all I can and have reduced my trash considerably but I want no part of “pay as you throw”. I would rather my sticker fee be doubled than be nickeled and dimed to death. Its not so much the bags as items that don’t fit in the bags. Can you imagine the junk that would appear in the swap shop and all over back roads in town if this was implemented? If you want to discard something as simple as a curtain rod – pay an extra fee. I don’t want to deal with it.
By the way, I haven’t seen officers at the transfer station checking for stickers lately. I believe that did and would do quite a bit to reduce our trash.
maybe I’ve done something incorrectly but I just visited the town’s web site and it seems as though the agenda for the meeting of the 18th hasn’t even been posted!
I went to http://www.southboroughtown.com/Agendas/ and found only the agendas for the 11th and prior.
A bit difficult to provide our input under such circumstances.
But, frankly, the real point the BoS should hear is that we’re making our point now and we’d love some better reaction than a reply that we attend future meetings.
Extended Transfer Station hours benefit a great many of us.
The town’s meeting calendar is here: http://southboroughtown.com/calendar.htm. It lists upcoming meetings along with links to agendas where available. The BOS meeting on the 18th and its agenda was posted earlier this week, but has since been removed.
If you’d like to see what the agenda was for the BOS meeting, you’ll find it on the blog here: https://mysouthborough.com/2010/05/17/the-week-in-government-41/.
FWIW, I post a list of upcoming meetings along with any agendas I can find, every Monday on the blog.
Sorry for your confusion. The Selectmen’s agendas are posted on the Meeting Calendar (and the Google calendar at the bottom of the town web page). When the date has passed the agendas are removed from the Meeting Calendar, although are still available in the Google calendar and also on the Selectmen’s Minutes page (http://www.southboroughtown.com/minutes/BOS_minutes%20master%20page.htm). I would suggest that you use this link instead of the one you referenced above. This link can also be accessed at the top of the Meeting Calendar. You probably did not find the agenda for the 18th because I was in the process of transferring it. My apologies…
I was looking to see if the agenda mentioned that Transfer Station rates increases were being discussed.
A clear agenda item might have created more of this discussion in advance of the meeting.
Let me repeat, the first thing Rooney does is raise taxes. Is that what you understand by “change”? Suggest you also go to the taxpayer site I suggested. Many suggestions, particularly informed ones by Al Hamilton are there.
What I understand by “change” is the hope of a well run town with a sustainable budget. That may, unfortunately, take the form of increased taxes as well as budget cuts and service cuts. What state of the union do you live in where none of that is happening to offset state and federal cuts in funding to states/towns coupled with a town’s budget that cannot sustain itself?
The sticker is not a tax. It is a fee for an optional service. As was noted above, you can contract for curbside pickup and then you don’t need to buy a sticker. The curbside operator has to make private arrangements for disposal of what they collect. Prices are not so high as you might suppose.
There is an argument, therefore, that the Town should set up the T station as a self-supporting operation, somewhat like the water department, not making any use of tax dollars. As is today, the T station might be thought of as unfairly competing with private trash haulers based on its access to a tax dollar revenue source. The more it fails to cover its costs, the stronger is this argument.
On the other hand the historical reason for municipalities to get into the trash business with tax dollars was the risk of improper disposal and the related environmental and health concerns. These were big issues when public disposal began. This issue will reappear, and has begun to reappear, as communities move away from free tax supported disposal services. In communities that implement “pay as you throw”, commercial businesses find that they suddenly need to seal off access to previously unlocked dumpsters. It is unclear, as of yet, whether long term “fee for disposal” systems will adversely affect the environment as people’s acculturation to proper disposal based in part on “free” government service recedes into the past.
Most trash is packaging of various kinds, which exists for the convenience of businesses delivering goods to market and only secondarily for the convenience of the consumer. This technology came about in the late 19th century, was then a great invention, and now needs to be uninvented, or rather, replaced by ecologically better systems that create incentives to reduce or eliminate it at the source. Your legislature has been unwilling to even think seriously about this issue. (You may remember that even the bottle bill was an initiative petition in MA, passed over the objections of bottlers.)
“As was noted above, you can contract for curbside pickup and then you don’t need to buy a sticker. The curbside operator has to make private arrangements for disposal of what they collect. Prices are not so high as you might suppose.”
Anybody know what the various private haulers charge for curbside?
I use a private hauler, I pay about $400-500 per year. It amounts to about a $4.00 per week above the transfer station costs to have someone come to my house and pick up my trash. They will pick up recycling too.
I also have a transfer station sticker because I use the recycling center.
I think the real reason we have a transfer station is because we once had a dump and when we could not have a dump anymore this was the solution.
I am a fan of pay as you throw but I know a loosing cause when I see one. I would like to challenge the notion that if we went to a purely private system we would see an increase in trash by the side of the road. Much of the country has private haulers and that system, once adopted works quite well.
The biggest problem with private haulers is what to do with large items. Many communities that have private haulers have 1 or 2 large item weeks where the town collects old sofa’s etc. The interesting thing is that these events attract “scavengers” who recycle a significant portion of what is set out. Your rusted grill is valuable scrap metal to someone else.
Question………is there a different rate for household stickers than for let’s say
a truck with a commercial license?
I have seen people at the transfer station return time and time again on the same day to dump truck loads of debris (a big home project, renovation, etc). ….are they paying the same as me for a sticker? If we pay by the ton than there should be some way to prevent this? I know, personally, I have paid
to have a junk truck come and haul away my stuff or people pay for the giant
dumpsters in their yard while they do a rennovation. But, I have also seen people take advantage of the transfer station and make numerous trips either in one day or over several days.
If we pay by the ton
didn’t finish my post………….
If we pay by the ton (and sticker price is the same across the board) than it doesn’t seem right that I bring a minimal amout to the transfer station and recycle just about everything possible in my household, but a fellow resident can dump debris till the cows come home and we are charged the same.
Pat, NJ is not raising fees or taxes. In fact it’s cutting everything. Other states will ultimately follow. Listen to the voters nationwide – particularly in November.
John Butler’s comment about “optional” service is interesting. The suggestion is that you PAY MORE for a pickup and then you don’t need it. Framingham had this debate a few years ago when their managemnt proposed a “fee”. Look, it walks like, looks like, and is a tax. If you approve of it fine. I don’t.
I want to believe that “NJ is not raising fees or taxes” and that “In fact it’s cutting everything…” so I search the WSJ.com using the keywords “New Jersey” (better than sitting on the pike in the traffic – not much though).
Top 15 results below and none note that “NJ is not raising fees or taxes” or that “In fact it’s cutting everything…”
#7 notes transit fare increases –Seems a lot like a tax increase and a very regressive one at that on the citizens of NJ, and not all that different than an increase in the cost of a transfer station sticker.
From #14 (Jersey’s Suburban Tax Blues): “He’s (Gov. Christie) blasted runaway spending, for which he’s received due credit. Yet his proposed state budget all but guarantees suburban homeowners a property-tax hike this year.”
The closest, and pretty distant connection to “not raising fees or taxes and cutting everything” is from #13 (New Jersey Rebellion A school budget revolt at the polls): “To address New Jersey’s $11 billion budget deficit, Republican Governor Chris Christie wants to reduce state aid to local school districts, and he urged voters to reject local school budgets in the vast majority of districts where teachers have not agreed to a one-year pay freeze.”
While some question whether Rupert has maintained the high standards of the WSJ, I can’t imagine that those standards have fallen so much that it would miss such a newsworthy story.
If you have credible data to support your conclusion, please share it with the rest of us.
1. Yesterday 12:01:00 AM New York New Jersey Leads Tri-State in ‘Seriously Delinquent’ Mortgages New Jersey’s mortgage loans that were “seriously delinquent”–meaning they are 90 days or more delinquent or in the foreclosure…
2. 05/19/10 New York New Jersey Lottery: Nets Don’t Win It The Nets failed to win the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday night. Some big names are taking part in Jets practices this week…
3. 05/18/10Video – WSJ Video: U.S. Soccer team In World Cup Preps The United States men’s soccer team is in Princeton, New Jersey, in training for the 2010 IFA World Cup. Video Courtesy…
4. 05/11/10Metropolis Russian Billionaire Takes Control of the New Jersey Nets The NBA’s Board of Governors approved the sale of the New Jersey Nets to Mikhail Prokhoro, making the Russian billionaire…
5. 05/05/10Law Blog Battle Brewing Over New Jersey Supreme Court New Jersey Governor Christopher Christie is locked in a battle with the New Jersey senate over the state’s supreme court…
6. 05/04/10Speakeasy ‘Real Housewives of New Jersey’ Season 2 Premiere: Danielle Staub Gets Roasted Everyone’s favorite housewives — the ones from New Jersey — are back. The new season kicked off with an old storyline…
7. 05/01/10New York NJ Transit Fares Rise Fare increases take effect Saturday across the New Jersey train and bus system operated by NJ Transit.
8. 04/28/10Interactives New Jersey Stone Manor Herb and Gloria Glatt are selling their 34-acre spread in Harding Township. The 21-room stone manor features seven bedrooms…
9. 04/28/10Real Time Economics Looking to Live Better? Move to New Jersey Asian Americans living in New Jersey live better than any other ethnic group in any other state — based on overall health…
10. 04/24/10Opinion Hope We Can Believe, and From New Jersey I am heartened to read in “The Weekend Interview with Chris Christie: New Jersey’s ‘Failed Experiment’ ” that someone has…
11. 04/22/10Business From New Jersey to Germany Aided by Wall Street ingenuity and a German bank with a voracious appetite for risky debt, hedge fund manager John Paulson…
12. 04/22/10Developments New Jersey Man, Facing Foreclosure, Holds No Grudge Against Paulson On its front-page today, the WSJ looks at the houses behind the deal at the center of the government’s civil-fraud allegations…
13. 04/22/10Opinion New Jersey Rebellion A school budget revolt at the polls.
14. 04/30/10Opinion Jersey’s Suburban Tax Blues The new state budget means higher levies on homeowners.
15. 04/28/10Business SEC Questions ‘Not Us’ Firm Executives at a New Jersey investment firm rejected as too risky the Goldman deal at the center of the SEC’s fraud lawsuit…
Great points “sborokid”…thanks for the info.
I would also point out that New Jersey has the great distinction of being
in the top 10 states that tax the most (Forbes, March 2009). In addition, according
to US census bureau statistics, N.J. falls 8th in our nation of highest total tax
burden (per capita).
Governor Christie is on the verge of having his state government shut down
due to threat of no budget in place by set deadlines. According to Neil R., “NJ is not raising fees or taxes” but Christie sure is whacking the heck out of services and has on the table a controversial tax surcharge on millionaires. One more interesting point to note….. Christie’s office is currently under fire regarding a recent Assoc. Press report that salaries for employees in his office are nearly $2 million more than in previous administrations.
Don’t know if I would be touting NJ as my poster-child for good budget practices.
I live on the cape and our transfer station is open 7 days a week in the summer and closed monday and tuesday in the winter. There is no overtime paid for the operation of the transfer station. Don’t know why Southborough couldn’t do the same.
You need to come off the Cape and show us how things are done
There must be some overtime paid if the Cape transfer station you’re referring to is staffed on Sunday. By law, hourly workers must be paid at time and a half that day.
But, I’d be ok with paying some time and a half hours in Southboro if we could open for 4 or 6 hours on Sunday afternoons.
Pat, ths is my last post on this. Christie immediately vetoed the tax increase after it was passed. He is trying to do the right thing. A school in RI fired all its teachers after they would not accept a deal. If my memory serves me right their average wage was $70K p.a., more than twice the local average. They crawled back to reapply for their jobs. Most everyone would like a secure union job. No doubt you have read how the unions with political support are bankrupting states (including MA) with outrageous pensions. I’d rather shut down than go bankrupt or pay higher taxes for them.
The WSJ today had a few comments on Christie under the byline “Christie saves New Jersey from a tax increase.” They further comment to write “The real privileged few in New Jersey are government unions that have soaked taxpayers to finance their oversized pensions, health-care benefits and salaries. Democrats hope that by raising taxes on the rich they can inoculate their union allies from Mr. Christie’s effort to reduce the advantages that government workers have over private workers.” The WSJ on line provides its opinion pieces for free. I suggest you and other taxers read http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704852004575258751835748206.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_AboveLEFTTop
To: Cape Esq
Unfortunately we have folks here who would rather raise taxes (oops, some call it “fees”)(including on the unemployed and senior citizens on fixed incomes) than ask employees, who are fortunate to have a job with generous benefits, to do any more without compensating them.
I just read Mr. Rossen’s comments and although I agree that no one wants fees or taxes to increase, his failure to appreciate the economic realities is frightening. Take a look at today’s MWDN and see how surrounding towns are in dire economic condition mandating a choice between a 2 1/2 override or drastic cuts in town services. This town will soon face that same situation, and to critisize our new selectman for his foresight is not only unfair but shows a basic lack of understanding of our current economic situation. Mr. Rossen, what do you propose we do at next TM when we do not have nearly enough revenue to support essential services? Give us some alternatives. You directed me to a site and I did not see a single suggestion.
dean dairy cried out to see the data. That is a valid request. That caused me concern about the basis of Rooney’s statement, so I decided for myself to see if dean’s challenge had any validity. It did not. dean, it is easy to either verify or dispute any statements through a simply search. Littleton charges 300 for the first sticker, 90 for the second and 35 for a replacement. http://www.littletonma.org/filestorage/53/111/Transfer_Station_Brochure_2009-2010.pdf
Boxboro charges 150 for the first, 50 for the second and 15 for the replacement. http://www.town.boxborough.ma.us/TransferStationStickerApp.pdf
I also discovered that hundreds, yes, hundreds, of other towns not only charge a permit fee, but also charge residents for bags to pay as they throw! So, things are not too bad here.
dean then asks how could our new selectman do such a thing and was it part of his campaign. For those of you who attended either of the debates, you know that BOTH candidates told everyone that the town is in a crisis, new revenue was required or get ready for a property tax increase. So in answer to your question, dean, yes it was part of the information that was said but not reported in the media.
We are a small town dependent on residential property taxes to fund the majority of our services. We do not have a sustainable commercial tax base that sufficiently adds to our revenue stream. People do not want town services cut, so where, pray tell, do you get the money to pay for those services? Look at the financial mess surrounding towns are in. Look at what has happened in Sudbury, Mendon, and what will likely happen in Holliston this week. We should start preparing now because its certainty is absolute.
I never questioned the ability to cherry-pick towns with higher transfer station rates. My question was whether Mr. Rooney’s “research” was a robust attempt to compare the drivers of waste disposal costs across communities, or simply a quest to find towns with higher transfer station rates in order to justify an increase to feed the existing cost structure.
Quite frankly, your presentation on behalf of Mr. Rooney sounds like the latter. Conspicuously, your comment does not address communities like Waltham, Mr. Rooney’s hometown, that provide curbside pick-up at no cost other than property taxes. Sure, Waltham has a huge commercial tax base, and that’s part of the picture.
But to understand all the cost drivers and available savings, you have to look not only to towns that charge more and provide less in order to prove your existing point, but also look to the municipalities that appear to provide more at lower costs. Otherwise, what you’re engaged in is a race to the bottom in terms of setting the standard for your delivery of public services. You’ll always be able to find a town that’s already worse than yours. Should our goal be to emulate them or the higher performers?
For the record, I really don’t think a small increase in a user fee like the transfer fee is the critical issue. What concerned me was the governing attitude going forward articulated in Mr. Rooney’s quote that seemed to say that the only way to address a budget shortfall is on the revenue side — whether through a general property tax rate hike or a set of fee increases intended to obviate the need for the former — without looking at the existing cost structure itself.
I’d just like to know that obligation to reduce costs is the first priority of our elected officials, especially when it comes to bigger, non-user fee items in the budget. All of these costs centers are rising at compound rates that cannot be sustained either by property tax increases much less “inventive” fee increases. To think otherwise is just “whistling past the graveyard.”
That’s why in the discussion of the transfer station I asked whether the BoS had looked at alternatives first. On the one hand, there were seniors looking for a discount. On the other, people who want more service and to contain operating costs. I pointed to the Senior Tax Work program as a possible cost saving solution that might meet both needs.
I had hoped to provoke a discussion of what’s possible, not a defense of the status quo.
well said and stated Resident-
The funds have to come from someplace to run the Town in an efficient manner.
One of the reasons I supported Paul Cimino is that he is for not only exploring the commercial tax base but for actually trying to get something done about it. I am not saying that our portion of the route 9 corridor should mirror that of Framingham or Shrewsbury–egads!– but the White’s Crossing Plaza has brought in some well needed revenue to the town.
I agree Carrie………well said “Resident”. I also agree with “Resident” regarding the
website that us “taxers” have been referred to by Mr. Rossen and found it quite useless….articles that are cut and paste, referrals to threads from this blog as well as emails that had been circulated around town. Nothing groundbreaking there.
As noted in today’s MWDN, town’s all around us are facing Prop. 2 1/2 votes, huges cuts in services, huge teacher cuts, and some even considering cutting entire athletic programs. There is no easy answer here and there is no one single answer. It probably will take a little bit of everything and a little bit from everyone….. some increases in fees, some cuts in service, some hits to the schools and certainly some rehashing of union contracts as they come to end of terms. I don’t disagree with
Mr. Rossens anger over new taxes or fees…… no one likes them. I just feel it
is probably the reality of these economic times, so………. I’m not going to bash the
new selectman only weeks into his term.
*Forbes, March 2009……..”it is just a matter of time before states start demanding more taxes to make up for huge state budget shortfalls created by the nationwide economic situation”. “Unlike the Federal government, state governments are legally bound to balance their budgets and don’t have the luxury of borrowing more money. They’ve got to reduce services or increase revenue or both”. That, then, trickles down to us.
I refuse to start a whining campaign over the very first thing Mr. Rooney does as new
BOS along with current BOS members. That helps no one. Why don’t we start this new journey with this fresh face in the BOS with the intent to participate and not bash? Why don’t more of us attend BOS and Advisory meetings? We have been encouraged and welcomed. I have June 1st marked in my calender and plan on becoming a part of the process.
Dean Dairy, I could not have expressed it better. The philosophy of simply examining the revenue side rather tan the cost side of the equation is exactly the problem. Those who went to the sobotax site, and found nothing, perhaps did not see suggestions for rationalizing the number of schoold we have. Here is one (cut and pasted from the site):
“The k-8 school population is projected to be down about 100 students from
the 2004 peak. The budget projects laying off 5-6 teachers which would bring
us in line with the Student Teacher ratio from 2004 for better and worse.
Neil is right, there was no serious consideration given to closing Neary
next year. It is a big decision and needs careful analysis which was not
done. For example, we are currently limited in the number of students we can
have in Trottier because of septic limitations. No real consideration was
undertaken to outline options for resolution of that problem that would
allow up to operate that nearly new building at capacity. ”
For some posters, I guess, it seems better to attack me and others searching for non-tax solutions.
I would like to suggest that we are asking the wrong question. I think the right question is “Why should the town be in the business of garbage collection at all?” This is a service that is very effectively provided by the private (tax paying) sector. There are several companies that vie for private collector business in the area so there is an effective, competitive market solution to the problem of what to do with our trash.
Our town is going to struggle to find the resources to pay for teachers and firefighters. As currently operated the transfer station still requires a substantial subsidy from the general fund. Why should someone in town who elects to us a private hauler be required to subsidize with their tax dollars another residents trash disposal?
At a bear minimum the transfer station should be operated as an enterprise fund. The fees should cover the full cost, including retirement, benefits and capital costs, of the operation. If someone then chooses to use the transfer station instead of a private hauler the playing field will be closer to level.
i think that the projected incoming student numbers will keep decreasing unless affordable housing units are built or the economy does a 360.
I also do not think that changing the limitations of a septic system is something that is in an outline; the septic system that was put into place was for a certain number of students/adults. As a family who has done renovations i can assure you that the guidelines are strict–to the point that in order for us to add a single bedroom on the ground floor we would have to upgrade our entire system.
i would think that down the line, 5 years perhaps? that is a guesstimation–the schools could be more consolidated–ridding the town of the burden of running Neary. I also like the idea of operating The Arts Center and a school together–or if the numbers worked perhaps the Senior Center and Finn as the numbers decrease over time.
I heard someone suggest that if we close Neary and increase the size of Trottier, a simple pipe could be installed from the Trottier septic field to the underused Neary septic system. Once Neary closes, that system could handle the excess. Simple gravity would move the effluent.
I do not know whether it is a good idea or a bad idea to close Neary, but the septic issue is probably not a deal breaker.
I heard the mayor of Cleveland on the radio today disusing how he is using this economic crisis as an opportunity to implement changes in city government. Essentially he said that significant changes in any government will not occur during good times because the citizenry tends towards the status quo. A crisis will generate sufficient citizen interest to demand changes.
Perhaps the very stark financial outlook for next year’s town meeting will generate enough momentum and interest to change the level and type of services we have in town today.
It will be an interesting year.
Some years ago, I did a thumbnail calculation for my personal household, using an estimate of how much trash we dispose of in an average week and the cost at that time of pay-as-you-throw bags in Northborough. I figured that we were throwing so little trash that we would surely come out ahead under a pay-as-you-throw plan. My calculation came out close to even, with the sticker fee being a slightly better deal. At that time, we disposed of a fraction of a barrel a week. With a family almost twice the size now, we’re not tossing much more than that. Of course I’d like to see sticker rates remain the same. I’d also like vending machine sodas to be 50 cents and gas to be under a dollar a gallon. Nobody likes spending more money. I do think, however, that increased sticker fees won’t help raise the recycling rate and thus lower the town’s cost of trash disposal. I wouldn’t scream if we went to a pay-as-you-throw system, but a previous poster mentioned the negative effects this might have. These would have to be addressed. (Dumping on Northboro Road? I have already seen it. I also know a family that set their house on fire trying to burn trash to save the bag fee.)
My understanding is that we have had to apply for several waivers to permit the number of students we have in Trottier with the septic capacity available. I believe that the nominal number is 7 gal/day/person and we are operating in the 4 gal/day/person range. (I hope that someone can provide better data but that is what I recall). I believe the building capaicty at Trottier is higher that that allowed by the septic system so if we could resolve this problem we could expand the capacity of our system and perhaps accommodate an additional grade.
As part of a 3/4 school review the costs of addressing the septic limitations (a “mini plant” such as the one built by the Fay School is one option) so we can take full advantage of the buildings we paid for needs to be done. Spending a million dollars to do the job right might be the best money the town ever spent.
Just what is the size of the subsidy from the general fund used to fund
the transfer station? I’d be curious to see what the actual dollar amount is.
If I were paying for a private trash company to collect my trash (and I’m not) I
may be a little put off that tax money helped to fund the transfer station. I guess
it would depend on the size of the subsidy alloted. It would be interesting to see what the town could save by switching to private collectors altogether.
Are transfer stations pretty obsolute in most small towns or a common service?
For 2007 Jean Kitchen did a good summary of the costs and revenues.
The annual operating expense of the Transfer Station in 2007 was $597k which included capital costs, labor, benefits but not pensions (that might add another 50-100k)
Stickers in 2007 brought in $247k which lead to a deficit of $350k which has to come from the General Fund.
Jean did a full cost accounting which allocated costs born by other departments and other budgets but I think it is quite enlightening.
There were I believe there were 2944 transfer station users but I believe that year you had to have a sticker to get the “town rate” if you had your trash picked up by a private hauler so the actual number of users is probably closer to 2000-2500. If you take 2250 as a mid point that give you an average cost of about $265 per user.
Probably worth noting that many who have private trash pick-up still use the transfer station for the recycling center and the swap shop, which need to be staffed and maintained.
Just a quick comment to the post above about the officers sitting at the dump, sorry, transfer station, checking for stickers.
I was a lucky recipient of not only a regular mailed nasty-gram, but a certified mailed copy of that same nasty-gram a little over a year ago. The letter stated that my car did not have a valid sticker on it. The sticker was placed on my car, where it always has been, and is supposed to be, but because my rear window was open due to a larger item, it wasn’t as visible as it normally is. The officer didn’t even get out of the car to see if I actually had a sticker. So not only did I have to take time off from work to go to the Southboro Post Office, bu I had to call the DPW and SPD to verify that my $110 sticker was in fact, legit. No apologies for the mistake, just plain attitude is all I got.
Did they really need to send 2 copies of the same letter? No. Was it really necessary to send a Certified Return Receipt copy? Most certainly not. Do I think it is useful to have an officer sitting at the dump watching for stickers when they could be doing something more important, like patrolling our neighborhoods? Not so much.
Stickers are supposed to go on the driver-side back bumper so that they can be easily monitored by the police officer on duty. I don’t think they owe you an apology if you put it in the wrong location and/or they can’t see it to check for it. You wasted their time and our taxpayer money by not having it in the correct location or visible.
If police are being used to monitor Transfer Station access, I return to my original suggestion (above).
To lower costs, couldn’t seniors who seek discounts instead become “volunteer” staff at the transfer station under the existing program in Mass that allows for reductions in property taxes for elders in exchange for such municipal work? How much of the transfer station labor cost is personnel just checking to see if the vehicles dropping trash have stickers? Do these have to be full-time town employees, never mind law enforcement?
***Sticker must be placed on the outside of the vehicle, on THE VERTICAL SURFACE OF the driver’s side rear bumper or driver’s side rear window on the vehicle being registered, sticker must be visible at all times.*** (From the Rules & Regs of the Transfer Station…)
For some reason the stickers do not adhere to the rear bumper of my vehicle, and never have in the seven years I have owned my vehicle so my sticker is on the rear window, as it is allowed. I also prefer not to adhere any type sticker directly to the paint on my vehicle which is also why it is on the window, where it is allowed. So yes, the sticker was in the correct location, and it was visible, maybe not from inside the cruiser, but it was visible.
My point was, the DPW must have a record of residents who purchase stickers, which includes the year/make/model/color of the vehicle, address, registered owner of the vehicle, all from the vehicle registration, which is provided by the resident when the sticker is purchased, not to mention the issued number that was on the older style stickers. Why wasn’t the list checked prior to sending the 2 letters to see if a valid sticker had been issued? Had the list been reviewed, then the cost of the papers, toner, ink, envelopes, postage, wages of the individual who sent the two copies of the letter, the time it took to run my plate through the Registry’s computer to get my information, etc, would not have been necessary to do.
I did leave out one part to this….it was an elderly resident that followed, sorry, tailgated my car from Deerfoot Rd, to the transfer station. She then tried to find something in her vehicle to throw in the hopper. She nearly knocked my son into the hopper in her rush to report me to the gentlemen in the office. One of them came out the door on the other side, and was checking out my car. I did ask him if the woman said I didn’t have a sticker on my car, when he said yes, I showed him where my sticker was on the window, as I had finished unloading my trash and was closing the hatch. I have to give the guys at the Transfer Station credit, they are very pleasant and agreed with me that some people have nothing better to do with their time. By the way, that oh-so friendly woman then reported my vehicle to the officer sitting in the lot. Had she just said asked me, I would have gladly & politely showed her the sticker on my rear window and the letter mess would never have happened.
Okay that is a “horse of a different color.” Thanks for the laugh about the “elderly resident.” Some people have WAY too much time on their hands. There seems to be a lot of that going on these days.
Also, one other question. Why do those who hire private contractors to remove their trash not have to pay for the dump sticker? Why was this removed?
As for the hours, I would like to see a few hours on a Sunday. Maybe shorten the hours on Wed, Thurs, & Fri. to compensate for it. Saturday is the only day we can get there. If we miss Saturday, the trash & recycling sits for another week. We have reduced our trash down to one bag a week, and that includes the cats’ litterbox.
In the past the private haulers were able to take advantage of the very favorable “tipping rates” that the town got from the incinerator which were well below the market rate. To take advantage of this rate residents had to have a sticker.
A few years ago the old agreement with the favorable rates expired and the town renegotiated (with a consortium of other towns) the rate which roughly doubled. At the same time the BOS said that the private haulers were on their own as far as “tipping rates” were concerned so there is no reason for a resident that uses a private hauler to have a sticker because they do not use any of the public facilities. The reality is that the resident that uses a private hauler subsidizes the transfer station through their taxes which make up about 1/2 of the cost of operating the transfer station.
Some residents who use private haulers continue to purchase stickers to use the recycling center or to dispose of large items.
Did a little research into transfer stations in towns across Massachusetts. We may not have it so bad here in Southborough……………
Here are some tidbits of how other transfer stations are run. I’ve pulled out
info from various towns, some where fee amounts were not posted. The web pages
varied greatly from vague to pretty well outlined. I’ve included permit prices and
times open, when I could find them.
Town A: *heavy restrictions on brush…….no more than 3 cubic yards/week and tree
limbs and brush cannot be longer than 4 ft.
*open Tues – Sat from 7:30am-3:45pm
Town B: *open Tues,Wed, Thur, Fri, Sat 8am-5pm,
*charge commercial construction fees (brush, roof shingles, compost and
Town C: * Charges small fee per year per household, but charges per bag….
kitchen bag, 33 gallon trash bag, AS WELL AS fees per item (i.e. fee
for microwave, bike frame, old chair, mattress, etc)
Town D: *Open 5 days/week 8am – 4pm
*fees based on weight. 12cents/lb. and bags need to be ready to
be weighed. No longer take brush. Charge per item….i.e. mattress,
microwave, carpet, etc.
Town E: * Minimum charge $20 per load as well as charging per item…..i.e. all
appliances are $20 each.
Town F: * Charges recently raised from $125 to $155 and have a recycling only
permit for $25.00
Town G: *Open everyday 7am-3pm, permit is $130/household
Town H: *Open Tues-Sat 8-4pm, permit is$180/household
Town I: *charges only $30/year for permit plus the cost of bags (5, 30 gallon
bags cost $12.50) For average family with 2 bags/week ends up
being <$300 per household.
The overall feeling I got from reviewing the transfer station info (some limited, some
not) ……….. I think it may not be so bad here in Southborough. Most towns I looked
at, even if charging a smaller fee for permits, charged a fee for EACH item for what we are all allowed to throw in the scrap metal pile. Didn't see any towns that had this open throw space for scrap metal with no fee attached. Also, towns that did have lower permit fees, usually charged per bag or according to weight. Can you imagine asking Southborough residents to wait in line while their garbage is weighed? Or telling residents they have to go to designated stores to buy their gargage bags?
Also, many towns did not have a swap shop……..so if you wanted to get rid of that
chair you really thought was gross but was hoping someone would re-upholster
(really?) we get to drop it in the swap shop, but a resident of another town has to
pay $20 bucks to drop it off.
Forgot to add………..keep in mind that when you have fees per bag, or
fees based on weight of bag/garbage and fees for individual appliances or items it probably means you need additional paid staff available.
And……………as reported in today’s MWDN, Ashland has new transfer station rates
going into effect this July. ” A base annual fee that residents pay for rubbish pickup
will increase from $138 to $156 per household.” Senior’s prices have jumped from
$48 to $86 per household. This, in addition to an increase in the cost of town trash
bags from $3.75 to $5.25 for a roll of five small bags ($9.00 for a roll of large bags).
It’s seems hard to escape the increases… they are happening all around us. A sign of the times.
We (Southborough) can dump as many carloads of trash as we want and our bags are not counted or weighed AND we are not charged for the bags. (I have even seen people make several trips in one day with home demolition!) We can drop off plenty of “stuff” at the swap shop (and I’ve seen some pretty sorry “stuff”…), in addition to leaviing any (and many) appliances in the scrap metal area….. bike frames, microwaves, refrigerators….with no one watching, weighing or charging “per item”.
Hard to complain, wouldn’t you say? $140 is looking like a pretty good deal/user fee, in my opinion.