Chairman of the Board of Selectmen John Rooney has made no secret of the fact he believes the Transfer Station should be a self-funding operation. This year he hopes Town Meeting voters will take a step toward getting it there.
When you buy your Transfer Station sticker each year, the money you paid goes into the town’s general fund. That means it can be used for anything, not just trash disposal. Article 23 on this year’s warrant would instead create an enterprise fund, so money raised by the Transfer Station would directly offset the cost of trash collection and processing.
In an email to My Southborough earlier this year, Rooney explained what an enterprise fund would offer.
An enterprise fund is a separate accounting and financial reporting mechanism for municipal services for which a fee is charged in exchange for goods or services. It would allow us to demonstrate to the public the portion of total costs of the trash service that is recovered through user fees (right now only sticker fees) and the portion that is subsidized by the tax levy. With an enterprise fund, all costs of service delivery are identified, and it would allow the town to recover the total service costs through user fees.
In 2012, the Transfer Station operated at a deficit of $150K. The shortfall was covered by funds from property taxes. DPW Superintendent Karen Galligan said to fully fund trash disposal, the cost of a Transfer Station sticker would need to increase from its current $175 to $250.
Rooney advocates a different path, saying an enterprise fund is the first step to other service models like pay as you throw that would be structured to cover the full cost of trash disposal. Rooney has lobbied hard for pay as you throw in the past, but his fellow selectmen have resisted the idea.
On Monday, Rooney hopes Town Meeting will approve the enterprise fund and move closer to what he says would be a more sustainable model for trash disposal in Southborough.
“[Pay as you throw] is something that can make a difference, and in the long run will allow those residents struggling with fixed incomes to remain in town,” Rooney said. “We are destined to a Proposition 2 1/2 override within the next 3 years or so, and if we start planning now to reduce municipal costs, we will go far in trying to weather this recessionary period.”
Pay as you throw has been a hot topic on this blog in the past. An enterprise fund for the Transfer Station doesn’t get us pay as you throw (the town could set up an enterprise fund and continue to operate just as it has been), but it would enable use-based service models.
What do you think? Is an enterprise fund a step in the right direction? Will you vote to support Article 23? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
It isn’t really accurate to describe the transfer station as operating at a “deficit” — it’s a public service which is partially funded through user fees, and partially funded through property taxes. It’s like if one described the police department as operating at a “deficit” since it is almost entirely funded by taxes. This is the reason we pay taxes — to fund useful public services. The word “deficit” carries negative connotations. Whether or not one thinks that the transfer station *should* be entirely user-fee-funded is a separate issue — it is currently funded exactly as it was intended to be funded.
So 150k in property taxes was needed to cover the gap in revenue from the sticker fees. In theory, if the town moved to a pay-as-you-throw model then this 150k drain on property taxes would be removed as the sticker/bag fees increased to cover it. Except it won’t happen that way. Instead of our tax rate being lowered in proportion to this savings, we’ll end up paying the existing tax rate *and* the higher sticker fee.
Also, I’d like to see any data in regards to the increased rates for commercial use of the transfer station versus the amount of trash commercial trucks throw there. Has a balance been achieved? I have my doubts and I wonder how much of that 150k shortfall is attributable to commercial dumping, so I’d really like to see data from the DPW.
In regards to the Enterprise fund, what exactly is the benefit to the Town “in and of itself”?
The challenge we face as a community is that our labor costs are rising faster than our tax base is growing. That means we will have to pay more and more for the same basket of services. We may not like it but until we get our labor costs under control (which will be difficult) that is the way it will be.
So, the only way to control our tax rates and avoid what is perceived as a risky Prop 2.5 override is to reduce services funded from the property tax. It is a legitimate question to ask, “Is there a compelling case for the Town to be in the trash business when there are several private, tax paying, services that provide similar services?” Alternatively is trash collection as important as Police, Fire, Schools etc?
If we are going to be in the trash business I think we need to find a way to make users pay in proportion to what they dispose of. Pay per throw is one way to achieve this goal.
“Avoid a Prop 2.5″ override.”
That is exactly what this is. The town needs more money and wants to avoid a Prop 2.5, and raising fees is one way to achieve this goal. They’ll take the 150k and put it to other uses, and force residents to spend more money on higher sticker costs to bridge the gap. Its just another tax (but unlike a Prop 2.5 override, its one we can’t directly vote against).
The request for Town Meeting to create an Enterprise Fund for the transfer station, beginning in July 2014, has the cart before the horse. At the present time there is no plan for what to do, if anything, about changing the transfer station operation or its funding, and no agreement on the Board of Selectmen about what direction to go with this issue. If a plan is assembled and presented to voters that requires an Enterprise Fund to properly manage it, then voters can look at the plan and decide about the Enterprise Fund based on it. As the other comments here show this is a complex issue that needs a substantive plan that voters can support. There will be at least one and probably two Town Meetings before the implementation date. Without a plan this request is, at best, premature. Town Meeting is of course at liberty to do as it wishes with this, but Advisory Committee voted unanimously to oppose approval of this at this time.
I’ve said this before, and I guess I need to say it again . . . I have lived in other communities had “Pay-As-You-Throw” (PAYT). The vast majority of residents HATE it. PAYT is a congenital Pain-In-The-A**.
If we’re not covering the Tipping charges and /or operational costs of the Transfer Station, then increase the cost of the Transfer Station Sticker. The fee should be higher to reflect actual cost. It’s simple, easy-to-administer, and doesn’t foist a change in behavior onto every Southborough resident.
Second, as much as I empathize with Mr. Rooney’s desire to ” allow those residents struggling with fixed incomes to remain in town”, I do not sympathize with retirees who actively decide to anchor themselves within one of the most expensive cost-of-living metro regions in the United States. Part of adult responsibility in later life includes “Retirement Planning”, and knowing where one’s dollars will stretch the farthest. As I recall, we in Southborough already subsidize senior citizen property taxes?
Keep in mind that lots of the people “anchored” here were living in Southborough long before it it became an expensive town. You know….population 3000, lots of cows, White’s Corner…when Southborough was a town. Who the hell ever thought that people would flock here to live in McMansions and drive the costs way up?
Thank you John! My thoughts EXACTLY! I have a widowed mother “anchored” in Northborough and is one of these people struggling to get by. She has “PAYT” and in her case, it’s probably less expensive for her to use PAYT than what it looks like the price of the stickers may cost in the future.
I think you have your economics wrong, at least from the perspective of funding town govt.
First, the “subsidizing” argument is backwards. There is a very modest tax “work off” program but I it is quite modest. On the other hand, Seniors, living on fixed incomes, are “cash cows” from a town finance perspective.
Over 2/3 of our tax dollars go to funding our schools. Only about 30% of the households in our community have children in our schools. The rest of us are “subsidizing” the education of the children who live in town. Please note I am not complaining about this, I am happy to pay my share, but this is the economic reality.
And what is the worst possible outcome? Forcing senior citizens out of their homes because of a high tax burden. Aside from the moral implications, the economics stink. Who after all will they sell their home to? More likely than not a family with children. Children who deserve a quality education costing the rest of use more or diluting the precious resources needed educate the children already here.
So rather than driving senior citizens out of our community, we should be doing everything possible to encourage them to stay. It is the right thing to do and economic thing to do.
Thank you Al
Thank you, both, John and Al!
Disagree with you there, Al.
No one is “forcing senior citizens out of their homes”, or throwing grandma over the cliff in her wheelchair. And unless you want to engender a society of Professional Victims, as is the current governmental trend, I think you should consider Retirement Planning as a moral imperative of every retiree .
The “economic reality” is that there are hundreds of other metropolitan, suburban, and semi-rural areas in the United States that have equivalent or better amenities, better healthcare facilities, and generally better living conditions for Seniors, at 1/2 to 1/3 the cost of what Seniors pay to live in Southborough.
In my lifetime, I have never known a single retiree who has not had to face this important decision . Nearly all retirees I’ve known choose to relocate to a community that is imminently more cost-effective for fixed incomes.
Matthew, price is forcing seniors out their homes. They may have a long-term affection for where they live or have spent most of their lives. Newcomers then price them out of the market. California had a “solution” for that but that state is so out of control that I hesitate to use it as an example. They froze property taxes and thrust the burden of increase on newcomers. Is that “unfair”? Depends where you are coming from and what your circumstances are.
Oh, and BTW paying separately for the transfer station will be a stealth tax. Vote NO.
I must say that I find the tone of your remarks offensive and your handing of the facts wildly misleading.
To say that we subsidize senior citizen taxes is extremely misleading. Al Hamilton has the economics of this right, and you do not. Senior Citizen taxes subsidize the schools. That is the overwhelmingly dominant fact in this picture. No one is saying that that is wrong. Without the many households that pay taxes but have no children in the schools, the Town could not, under State law, even pass overrides large enough to pay for the schools. Diversity of services needs is essential to the economic viability of the Town. You better hope Seniors don’t leave. To make policy, we must think of everyone.
The larger problem of tone however is that you write as if some group, other than the seniors, “owns” this Town and its policies. This is offensive to me. Mr. Rooney is trying to adjust policy so that it is easier for citizens on fixed incomes to live here. Even if the particulars need debate, that is a most worthwhile idea. Seniors have every bit as much right to have our policies fit their needs as anyone else does. Senior’s reasons for choosing to be here are as valid as your reasons for “anchoring” yourself here, to apply your offensive term, “anchoring”, to yourself.
Mr. Butler –
What exactly is it in my “tone” that you find offensive? The fact that I acknowledge superior living options available to Seniors in other areas?
Neither I nor anyone else “owns” the town, and you are certainly entitled to your opinion.
I do however, suggest that if you, Mr. Rooney, and other Social Progressives are sincerely interested in making it easier for citizens on fixed incomes – that you deposit yourself in our public library, and peruse some back issues of Money Magazine, U.S. News, or similar financial/ information resource.
There, at no extra government expense, and without legions of subcommittees, public service unions, mandated contribution programs, or sticking it to working families in Southborough – you will find annual reports and articles about “Top Retirement Communities” . . . or “Best Places to Retire”. These, again, are communities that have equal or superior amenities to Southborough at a fraction of the cost of living in Metrowest Boston.
Mr. Brownell’s comments are very offensive along with being ignorant of the many benefits our seniors bring to our community. Al and John are correct. These benefits are financial (their contributions to our school system which they do not directly use), civic (they represent a very large number of our town volunteers), cultural (they embody a history of our town that nothing can replace) – to name but a few. Sadly, there is a cross section of our country that simply does not get that EVERY kind of diversity, be it racial, financial, cultural, economic or age diversity benefits our community and contribute to its surviving and thriving.
But comments such as his should not be surprising. They are of the Mitt Romney, 47% ilk that categorize people as “takers” in their narrow definition of how one brings value to a community. “Professional Victims” indeed. Why not just call our seniors “dead weight” and be done with it? When we become a culture that forces its parents and grandparents to move from their homes, friends, children and grandchildren, to designated senior communities, we will all – especially our children – be much worse off. That is not the kind of community I want to live in – a one dimensional 2.5 children in every home, ghost town during the day, bedroom community. Everyone who knows anything about urbanism knows that that idea is precisely what is killing our suburbs.
Mr. Brownell, just so that I am clear, the following are offensive:
“Professional Victims” – speaks for itself. YUK!
“working families” – as though retired seniors have not worked all their lives.
“anchor themselves” – aka they are mooching off the rest of us and dragging us down.
“subsidize senior citizen property taxes” – seniors who contribute nothing to our community are taking money out of your hard-working pocket.
None of us lives in a bubble. Each of us is part of something bigger and at different times, as part of that something bigger, we must take on different roles and responsibilities. This is the definition of “community.” Anyone who doesn’t understand that should pick up and move to a deserted island and see how well they prosper.
When I read these kinds of “viewpoints” I wonder how they are being processed by the children of those who espouse them. What message are their children getting at the dinner table? I wonder if, one day, the children will be grown with families of their own and successful jobs and will be faced with aging parents in need of financial, medical or other kind of support. Will they say to their parents “it’s not my job to care for you,” “I work hard for my family and my money,” “you should have anticipated and planned for your retirement.” Or will they instead understand that during the life of every responsible human being there are times when they need care and times when it is their responsibility to care for another. Are any of us 100% sure that we will never need the care and compassion of another? If so – best of luck with that.
Matthew, If you’ve noticed my comments on these boards, you will notice that they are Conservative (capital “C”). One can also be a compassionate conservative although the progressives (which to me means very liberal) have mocked that term. Your tone suggests that even if you’ve lived here a long time and now can’t cut the check for the property tax you’d better leave. Maybe it was unintentional but it could be confused with the sort of elitism I normally associate with progressives. I am a capitalist though and understand where you are coming from.
I still assert that the transfer station is a side show despite the merits of the various arguments. Seniors are being run out of town by the schools That is where the energy for change should be spent. That is the reason I will skip TM, as much most of the time is spent on side issues, and the outrageous expense of the schools will be approved on the nod.
Democrat, republican, progressive, blaming “current government trends” or neglecting to “blame Bush” as Frank adds……that is ALL beside the point. Mr. Brownell’s posts are cold and quite rude, actually. My first thought is not to blame his political preference but to question his lack of humanity. Sheesh.
If you have to explain to someone why “seniors” are as valid a resident as any of us, it’s time to worry. Just try using this same logic with me when I become an “older American” and you’ll get an earful for sure.
Ok, we have beaten up on Mr. Brownell. As someone who occasionally inserts his foot in his mouth up to his knee I suggest that we call a truce.
Mr. Brownell is not a fan of the “Nanny State”, neither am I. He asks a question worth asking. Should senior citizens be exempted from some of the fees and taxes that the rest of us have to pay?
I believe that policies designed to keep senior citizens in their own homes in our community are in my financial best interest. However, my financial interest should not be the governing principle in public policy. (If it is most of you are in big trouble.)
The underlying economic assumption is that by “subsidizing” seniors we are taking steps to limit the influx of families with children who will require an expensive education. Are policies that consciously or not have the effect of limiting educational choices to young families moral?
The fact is that in this country we practice economic self segregation. The quality of the educational environment that is available to our children is heavily dependent on this economic self segregation. That is probably why many of the posters on this board came here. I am no exception. Is it proper for us to promote policies that “slam the door behind us” to keep others from enjoying the benefits we came here for?
I am not suggesting we change a policy, I am after all rapidly sneaking up on crossing the “subsidy line” but I think the question should be asked.
I agree with Greg’s comment and don’t see our Transfer Station’s ‘deficit’ as something that needs to be fixed to the penny. In the face of continued citizen opposition, I wonder why Selectman Rooney continues to try and push this particular agenda. He’s hoping to defer a Prop 2 1/2 override that’s “3 years or so” down the road?? That hardly seems certain and is definitely not a compelling argument. I agree with Mr. Martel and would rather we chased the commercial users first. Are there separate fees? What is that fee structure based on? Can a private citizen who also happens to be a business proprietor bypass any of these commercial fees or are there adequate controls in place?
If it wasn’t for many of the now retirement-aged natives, and their parents who were also born and raised here, Southborough would not be the desirable community that it has become, which has attracted so many “elitists”!!!
Many started life as farmers, laborers, mechanics, service workers and the like, working the many farms, for the two private schools, the Deerfoot Farm meat processing plant, the local automobile garages, etc., and did not even know or understand “Retirement Planning”!
Seniors paid hefty taxes to support schools, school buildings, and other services. They volunteered countless hours to serve the community so that thousands of acres of farm properly would be wisely zoned and developed.
Many can’t afford, or even have the desire to leave the community where they have deep family roots and fondness!
Matthew, you speak as if our seniors have no value to our community if their finances are not able to keep up with all of todays rising cost. Many have contributed an awful lot to our community and still do! I wouldn’t be so quick to push them away. they are part of the Southborough we all love.
Matthew isn’t pushing seniors away. He is simply stating that we all have choices and if senior choose to remain in a high cost area, they (and all) need to both benefit and suffer from that choice. Yes, Southborough has changed, just like any metro area of hundreds of other cities in the US.
I certainly do not support a pay as you go format as I too have lived in other areas if the country where it did not work. Further, I will certainly voice my protest (vote) for public officials who support closing or pay as you go.
Lastly, if the comment regarding McMansions is suggesting you want to drive out the working class families of this town, be careful there what you ask for as local businesses certainly are supported by families consuming and supporting them .
I live alone, I am not a big consumer and I’m also an avid recycler and “composter,” so I generally have only two bags of trash per month. Yet I pay the same annually as those who throw in much more. “Pay as you throw” sounds more fair to me!
I for one thought I would “hate” pay as you throw. We participate in a single stream “pay as you throw” program elsewhere and ultimately it encourages me to be a vigilent recycler. No doubt this benefits the enviroment and the Town. Done right, PAYT works and works well. PAYT allows me to pay for my trash vs the vast amount deposited in our transfer station by all the commercial I mean homeowners with pickup trucks currently dumping.
Is there a pay as you throw model that would allow for it to coexist along side the current sticker system? Would it involve too much monitoring or would it simply be a different hopper or dumpster. As we recently saw with the effort to separate wood debris into a dumpster, there is room for this on the property but would it need emptying too often to be effective?
I’ve been in towns with only one or the other but no one has yet to do both. If it’s remotely possible I think it should be explored given how divided we seem to be.
For the record I am a fan of a sticker system. At the moment we simply have too many diapers. But down the road I might favor pay as you throw. Just like I might favor opting out of the percentage of taxes that support the schools. I might even opt for a pay as you learn program too, since it would get more parents to learn and possibly scrutinize the school budget and labor contracts.
Let me make it clear, specifically in response to southsider, that my only “agenda” is to examine every possible way to cut expenses thus relieving the ever increasing residential tax burden. Personally, I would not “like” going to a PAYT system, but I would be willing to change my trash disposal habits if in so doing it allowed a single senior to stay in town a bit longer.
As I have said before, this town must decide how to resolve a serious revenue shortfall projected for FY15 and several years beyond then. I believe we need to be proacive in our outlook and prepare the best we can for this fiscal chasm. The factors that led to the budget challenges in town are systemic, difficult to resolve, and not unique to this town. The fact is that present spending levels and personnel benefits packages carved during time of surplus do not reflect today’s hard economic times. Fiscal year 2015 revenues are conservatively projected to be 5% less while expenses are projected to increase by 2%.
Continued spending without a critical examination of ways to reduce expenses will cause a large number of people to leave our town. At the same time, increased taxes will prevent younger people from even considering Southborough as an option. The five year financial outlook demands we do something to secure the fiscal stability of our town. That is why I suggest we as a community take a look at how we do business. That is my only “agenda.”
The town needs to act with fiscal responsibility when making decisions with regard to the transfer station. I am not in favor of any proposal that calls for an additional expenditure of our limited resources for the operation of our transfer station. I believe it is time for elected leaders to lead and offer suggestions on ways to reduce the burden on tax payers.
One of the most important advantages of a variable-rate program may be its inherent fairness. When the cost of managing trash is hidden in taxes or charged at a flat rate, residents who recycle and prevent waste subsidize their neighbors’ wastefulness. Under PAYT, residents pay only for what they throw away.
As a community we can reduce the costs of operating the transfer station by connecting our trash disposal habits directly to our wallets. I would suggest that the more each household throws away, the more it has to pay. A household that throws away one non recyclable disposal trash bag each week should not have to pay the same as the household that throws away 6 non recyclable disposal trash bags each week. Everyone already pays for electricity, gas, home heating oil, and water based on actual consumption. Why do we assign trash in a different category and feel the need to provide it to everyone on a flat-fee-per-household basis? Though politically unpopular, in times such as these where the recession and budgetary deficits make competition for municipal funding challenging, we need to examine the way in which the town does business. This policy makes households responsible for the quantity of waste discarded and thus creates an incentive for increased recycling, composting, and ideally a reduction in waste creation.
We have many case studies to draw on.
According to a study of 21 US cities with populations of less than 50,000,the quantity of waste deposited in landfills decreased by an average of 40 per cent and recycling increased by an average of 126 per cent after user fees were introduced. See Unit Programs for Residential Municipal Solid Waste: An Assessment of the Literature (Washington, DC: US Environmental Protection Agency Office of Policy, Planning and Evaluation, March 1996) at 8, online: EPA
In our backyard, the Town of Needham has a transfer station similar to ours. They reduced their solid waste trash disposal by 50% in the first year of going to a PAYT system. It has since remained at 40% less than pre PAYT. In the first year their recylcing increased by 11%, and has now leveled off to an increase of 30%.
The Town of Ashland has curbside pickup and PAYT. In the first year of introducing PAYT, trash tonnage was reduced by 37% and recycling increased by 98%.
One thing is certain: Reducing our solid waste by 50% would allow us to substantially reduce our costs of operating the transfer station. Our transfer station sticker fees would not have to continue to increase year after year, nor would a continuing increasing trash fee tax lurk un-itemized in your annual tax bill.
I am fully cognizant that a PAYT system will ultimately fail if there is not widespread residential support. At the same time, I would caution against ignoring the problem and being content with increasing user fees as costs increase. This is what I call the Little Dutch Boy solution. The reference has come to symbolize a situation where a person plugs leaking holes while ignoring the overall problem. A Little Dutch Boy elected leader may be willing to plug one hole by annually increasing the transfer station sticker fee, but the broader problem is a structural fault in the “dam” – namely, the increasing costs associated with running the transfer station. As I’ve said on multiple occasions, it is hard for an elected leader to claim fiscal responsibility when that leader raises his hand and votes yes to spending increase after increase, or votes no to spending cut after proposed spending cut. If the town wants an elected leader to ignore this trash problem and not offer ways to cut expenses, full disclosure requires me to tell you that I am not that person.
Wow… didn’t expect such a long response. On one hand you say the prop 2 1/2 override is ” 3 years or so” down the road. In your follow-up, you specify serious revenue shortfalls as soon as 2015. My only point was that as an elected official, you should recognize that the majority who elected you have spoken on this PAYT issue in the past and do NOT want it imposed on them. And I’d further hope to hear your comments on the issue of commercial use fees that I raised in my original comment. And btw, if the 2 1/2 override could be avoided by a $75 per year increase in Transfer Station use fees, I’d be all for the fee increase.
Benchmarking is all well and good when you’re searching for solutions, but to identify the problem in the first place you need analysis that is driven by current Town data. I suspect the DPW has none, and if true then this is a problem.
What is the avg weekly # trips for a resident? For commercial?
What is the avg weekly weight/trip for a resident? For commercial?
These can be piloted or at least estimated. If you don’t have this data, how do you identify the cost drivers? How do you know that any suggested solution will fix the problem while still maximizing value?
Establishing an Enterprise Fund is not the proper first step. In my opinion, the BOS should start by requiring the DPW to gather raw data that spans the remainder of 2013.
Commercial trash isn’t accepted at the Transfer Station. It is only for residential use.. Bussiness in town contract with commercial haulers who aren’t allowed in the station.
There may be a little commercial waste slipping in, if a resident has a business and brings that trash in their own vehicle. But most businesses generate too much waste to put in their cars and bring to the Transfer Station.
So you are sure that there is no contractor, which I think by definition would be commercial, dumping large amounts of house construction trash in the hopper?
That “restriction” may sound nice, but there is no enforcement. And I have seen a commercial vehicle dump a load of construction material more than once.
So have I…
Isn’t the transfer station a sideshow? The issue is the school and its unions. And they will prevail.
Mr. Rooney, you say “I am not in favor of any proposal that calls for an additional expenditure of our limited resources for the operation of our transfer station”. Then how do you propose to pay for this Enterprise accounting?
It appears to be just a fund to hold the fees? OR is its usefullness supposed to be an actual accounting as if it were a separate entity, like a business model? If so, then someone will need to oversee and track all of the costs and income associated soley with the Transfer Station. (I assume that level of detail is not currently recorded.) These include labor by the hour of any DPW employees who do any tasks for the TS, unless this is separately recorded already. TS land use and equipment use separtely from DPW, utilities costs, etc. would need to be aportioned. In other words, a thorough accounting of the TS as a separate entity will require an overhead accounting cost. The “Enterpise” is not free.
Having worked on the original recycling committee for the town, many years ago, I wonder if some of my assumptions are still correct. Do we currently list all income from recyclables vs the cost of maintaining the recycling program? Is the recycling program the actual reason that we are in a “deficit”? Maybe this is what the town is actually subsidizing, and the citizens approve of this environmental action?
Can someone tell me, do we still have a contract with Millbury for incineration and if so, when does that expire and how is it affected by a change to PAYT? There was a time when we actually had to supply a MINIMUM tonnage as part of our contract or pay a penalty.
Also, is there any way to separate the commercial tonnage from that which is dumped by residents? Perhaps if commercial dumping were only allowed on separate days from residents’ use, we could evaluate the costs and fees of each side. Why switch to a PAYT program for residents if in fact the commercial use causes our financial burden? Or perhaps it is just the opposite. Do we know?
I believe we have a long term contract with Millbury. We renegotiated it about 5 or 6 years ago in a consortium with other communities. At the time, the rates went up substantially (the number $75/ton sticks in my head but I could easily be wrong). I believe the agreement calls for a minimum tonnage.
A few years ago there was a proposal to install an electronic gate to stop unauthorized access (no sticker). I believe the recycling committee did a small study to determine the rate on non sticker compliance. Contrary to popular belief at the time the rate on non compliance was fairly low.
If there is a belief that there is commercial dumping going on (which is prohibited but never enforced) a similar study could be undertaken. It would probably take a volunteer about 10 hours.
Random Thoughts on this Wonderful Thread
– Nothing like a little trash discussion to get the blog going
– It is not good for any community to have high taxes drive anyone out of town. I know this from personal experience and probably will be leaving for this reason.
– I wish Mr. Rooney were on the K-8 School Committee or if they actually listened to him now.
– What is so difficult about determining how many residents drop off trash vs. commercial vehicles? My casual observations tell me that we could learn a lot with two video cameras checking total trash dumped and for stickers.
– “Disgusted” – the only thing you missed was blaming Bush.
BTW, while I commented negatively on Mr Brownell’s post, I am far more negative on “Disgusted”‘s (why anonymous?) gratuitous views on Mitt Romney. I don’t think we should rerun national politics here.
Mr. Brownell, I am sure by now you understand how insulting your comments are to so many of us and our parents. Listening to you I’m sure your parents did a fine job teaching you about financial responsibility. Unfortunately, they may have overlooked the lesson about compassion, because you seem to have very little knowledge in that department. My mom lives in town. She’s 86 years old. She hasn’t done the best job in financial planning. You see, sometimes people have the best intentions but then life happens. She has been here since 1963. Unfortunately, in 1968 she buried her son, my brother, Bobby, in our rural cemetery. He died fighting for the freedoms of all our town’s people and his country. His name is on the “All Wars Memorial” in the center of town. In 1984, she buried her husband, my dad, next to Bobby here in town. Now after reading your comments, I’m under the understanding you think she has a moral obligation to pack up and move to a more affordable part of the country. All I can think is, you must be a very lonely, sad man to feel such little compassion for others.
Your assumption would be incorrect, Mr. Foley. . . and painting me a callous and cold old crank is a tired, predictable dog that isn’t going to hunt.
I thank you for Bobby’s service. I know that in any community, we are built on a legacy of sweat, devotion, and sacrifice of previous generations.
It is because I have great compassion for Seniors that I present serious options for their well-being. If I were a retiree on a fixed income (and soon, I will be), and someone presented me with comparable or better lifestyle options that shave thousands, or perhaps tens of thousands of dollars in annual living expenses – I would certainly keep a keen ear and open mind to to it, Mr. Foley.
Here are four (4) articles that may kindle some interest and be useful to you:
“10 Best Places to Retire”
U.S News & World Report
“Best Place to Retire for Under $40,000”
U.S. News & World Report
“10 Best Places to Retire on Social Security Alone”
U.S. News & World Report
“10 Affordable Cities for Retirement . . . Bargains for Retirees, and You Can’t Beat the Lifestyle”
Mr. Brownell, I commend you on standing up for what you believe in. Your opinions are as valid as all the others and I think you expressed them with dignity. One thing the seniors being ‘force out’ of their homes should consider is the increase in value of their property. Maybe they should consider a reverse mortgage to offset the increased property taxes. With the bad comes the good.
Please note that, aside from comparing some of Mr. Brownell’s comments to those of Mitt Romney (and rightly so since his use of the phrase “professional victims” is almost a Mitt Romney quote), I didn’t get into politics. Never did I use the words Republican or Democrat, progressive, liberal or conservative. My comments dealt with differing viewpoints on the idea of community. If some political shoe fits, then so be it. I tried to stay on topic.
Article 23: Vote to establish an Enterprise Fund for solid wast disposal operations pursuant to the provisions of M.G.L. Ch 44,section 53F1/2.
What is it? Visit the following site.
Ms. Phaneuf, THANK YOU. That gov. doc. is very helpful.
I admit that I didn’t finish reading the whole thing, but I assume that the Selectman and Advisory Committee are well versed in its contents. My quick review found there are many legal requirements and deadlines and obligations for the town when accepting an Enterprise Fund. There are also expenses involved in running one, which I thought should have been mentioned in the Warrant Article.
Perhaps if we are to pursue this next year, someone could summarize the points of this document and/or our obligations under an Enterprise Fund.
By the way, do we currently run any other Enterprise Funds in Southborough? The gov. doc. says they can also be applied to Water departments, Recreation, Golf courses, and Ambulance service.
Thank you again.
One thing that has been overlooked in the above discussion is a perk that senior citizens receive from the Town of Suthborough. If a person is 65 +, there is no charge for the transfer station stickers. Therefore, I am NOT in favor of PAYT because being over 65 means my stickers are free. PAYT means I would have to pay to get rid of my trash. And PAYT will not make me any better a recycler — I am a diligent recycler as everyone should be.
Commercial businesses and haulers (including Southborough landscapers) should be charged a different (and higher) fee than residents. And there should be better monitoring of who is throwing what into the hopper. Rarely is a DPW worker stationed at the hopper and if they are there, they mainly are checking for stickers.
As an “empty nester” we have very little trash and I recycle like crazy, however I want NO PART of PAYT. I don’t want to buy special bags, I don’t want to worry about how to dispose of items that don’t fit in the bags. As a town with 100% septic, we will never reach Needham’s recycle rate since we throw out food. If I can subsidize the schools, I don’t feel guilty about a little tax subsidy for my trash but I will pay a higher fee if that’s what it takes to preserve the status quo.
The transfer station is a convenient target. Other posters are correct – the schools, the union benefits, the surplus town real estate are all bigger ticket items. Don’t forget St. Mark’s and Fay Schools sitting on large untaxed properties and huge endowments begrudging us minimal pilot payments.
When I receive that big quarterly tax bill, I do think about those “10 Best Places to Retire” stories but I am here for now.
Article 12: To see if the Town will vote pursuant to M.G.L., Chapter 44, section 53E1/2 to reauthorize the use of a revolving fund for the following purposes..
Summary”This article which provides for revolving funds must be approved annually and will cover the costs of the programs as described above.”
Page 26 of the Annual Warrant for the Annual Town Meeting on April 8,2013
Not withstanding the current arguments going on I would like to add a few things to contemplate.
What does the town do with the scrap steel? At the moment it is $200 dollars a ton picked up,what is the town getting for it?
Brings me to another question which I’d like to see posted here is the amount of moneys earned from the trash “cardboard,newspaper,plastics,being hauled away.
Since trash is now a commodity which lately other countries are buying American trash “cardboard”.
I have asked and have brought to the attention of the DPW that other towns make money off of their trash and have full time people running their recycle centers and the reply to me was:” That’ll never happen here”.
Also being a family of average means we recycle always but it seems to me that it’s not true of the people of higher income bracket. Very often I see big SUV’s dumping all sorts of items and trash into the compactor of which should either go into its respective bin or swap shop.
I don’t know about commercial carriers using the compactor but many contractors use it as their personal dumpster. CLEARLY better policing of what goes into the compactor needs to be carried out if we want our costs to come down or remain the same.
Also I still see TV’s snuck into the steel disposal area so I hope the camera’s are working to catch the offender.
In conclusion I believe if run as a business the transfer station could be a gain rather than a money pit. I would hate to think that Payt would be the final solution.
The swap shop has been a wonderful boost to many families I know of toys,bikes,etc
All these repurposed items would of been in the pit had it not been for forward thinking.
Crunch time is here we need a solid answer that works for everyone.