Selectmen may move to postpone Town Meeting vote on controversial Transfer Station fund

There has been much discussion on this blog over the past few days about a proposal to create an enterprise fund for the Transfer Station. Now town officials say they will likely move to postpone a vote on the fund at Town Meeting on Monday.

An enterprise fund would allow any revenue generated by the Transfer Station through user fees or other methods to be used to directly to offset the cost of trash collection and disposal. Currently Transfer Station sticker fees go back into the town’s general fund.

Chairman of the Board of Selectmen John Rooney proposed creating an enterprise fund (Article 23 on this year’s warrant) as the first step toward a pay as you throw model of trash disposal, but he acknowledges a vote on the issue may be premature.

Rooney said the proposal for an enterprise fund was discussed at this week’s Advisory Committee meeting, and the general feeling was a more detailed discussion of Transfer Station options should happen before any decision about an enterprise fund. “Therefore, the feeling is the cart needs to follow the horse,” Rooney said via email.

Town Administrator Mark Purple said selectmen will give a brief presentation at Town Meeting next week on how an enterprise fund would work, but said they will likely move to indefinitely postpone a vote on the article.

Rooney has long advocated a pay as you throw model for the Transfer Station as a way to reduce operational costs, as well as to make trash disposal more affordable particularly for those living on fixed incomes.

“As a community we can reduce the costs of operating the transfer station by connecting our trash disposal habits directly to our wallets,” Rooney wrote in a comment on this blog. “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.”

Many of you on the blog have opposed the idea of moving to a use-based model of trash disposal, saying it would be difficult to implement and burdensome on residents.

“I am fully cognizant that a PAYT system will ultimately fail if there is not widespread residential support,” Rooney wrote. “At the same time, I would caution against ignoring the problem and being content with increasing user fees as costs increase.”

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