An increase in the cost of a Transfer Station sticker has been an annual event for several years now. Last night Selectmen decided to hold the fee at its current rate of $175, but there was little consensus on the board about how the Transfer Station should operate and be funded in the future.
In a memo to selectmen, DPW Superintendent Karen Galligan said Transfer Station sticker fees cover a portion of the cost to operate the Transfer Station and dispose of the town’s trash, but an additional $150K was taken last year from the tax roll to fully fund the operation. If the town wanted to cover the full cost via permit fees, the price of a sticker would need to be $250, she said.
Funding the Transfer Station solely through sticker fees is exactly the direction Selectman Dan Kolenda said the town should move in. Kolenda proposed raising the cost of a sticker to $210 this year with the goal of reaching $250 next year.
But Chairman John Rooney said while he thinks the Transfer Station should be self-funding, he did not support an increase in the sticker fee, arguing instead the town needs to move to a usage-based model like pay-as-you-throw.
“I had an issue with (a fee of) $175 because then the person throwing away one bag is paying the same as the person throwing away ten bags. I will certainly have problem with $210,” Rooney said.
Selectman Boland also opposed an increase, as well as a move to pay-as-you-throw, saying the use of tax dollars to partially fund the Transfer Station is appropriate.
“I think it’s a service that some of your tax money should go to,” Boland said. “We don’t pay per child we have in school, or per time the fire department comes to your house, or per senior citizen that goes to the Senior Center.”
So, we have one selectman who wants to fund the Transfer Station solely through permit fees, one who wants to move to pay-as-you-throw, and one who is just fine with the way things are. See what I mean about little consensus?
In the end, the board voted 2-1 to keep the price of a Transfer Station sticker at $175. Rooney joined Boland in the yes vote (albeit “reluctantly,” he said), while Kolenda voted no. (The vote also changed some Transfer Station policies and associated fees. I’ll detail those in an upcoming post.)
But Rooney wasn’t content to let the issue stand where it is. Saying the town needs “to act with fiscal responsibility,” Rooney asked Galligan to draft a proposal for a pay-as-you-throw system. He also asked her to look into doing away with the Transfer Station entirely and instead having residents use private haulers.
“If it makes fiscal sense, I will once again push the board to adopt it,” Rooney said of pay-as-you-throw, which he lobbied hard for last year. “But I assume I will be outvoted as in the past. Correct?”
Kolenda and Boland answered in unison with a resounding “yes.”