On Tuesday, the Public Works Planning Board presented their Transfer Station report to selectmen. They explained their recommendations and rationale on operations and funding.
The Board of Selectmen asked a few questions, but deferred any hearing or vote to the spring.
Selectmen Dan Kolenda told Chair Desiree Aselbekian, “I look forward to a robust debate in the springtime about the best ways/most efficient ways to move forward with the Transfer Station.”
Below are more details on the PWPB report.
According to the PWPB, the station is operated as efficiently as possible given the layout of site. As the Transfer station sits, one full time employee with a part-time/seasonal employee is necessary.
Aselbekian told selectmen that if the site layout changes it might be possible to “tweak” some staffing.
Selectman Paul Cimino wondered why there wasn’t more emphasis on improving recycling in their findings.
Aselbekian explained that state data on Pay as You Throw shows recycling can be improved, but it’s no guarantee. She said that in some communities people appear to only pinch pennies at the start:
but then you go back and say, ‘Oh, I’m not dealing with this!’ And you may end up resorting to your old ways.
The PWPB chair told the board,
We don’t feel that we should push something onto the community. . . and make them recycle, we want them to want to recycle. . .
There needs to be an overall better community plan to promote recycling. It can’t simply be forced upon you in the way you dispose of your trash.
(Note: Two of the five members did select a Pay as You Throw option as their second choice recommendation. More on that under Funding recommendations.)
The report also concluded that Pay as You Throw would require additional staffing.
In the report, the board did recommend implementing a “Recycling Made Easier” plan:
Under this plan, users would be able to commingle all the recyclables with the exception of newspapers and larger/corrugated cardboard. Therefore, glass, aluminum, paper goods, etc. can all be put in one bin increasing the ease of recycling.
Aselbekian also said that they are working with the Green Technology and Recycling Committee. They have attended each other’s meetings and plan to continue to work together to better promote recycling.
The report also calls for an “Enhanced Take-Back Program”. The board believes the DPW should charge a fee for large white goods that have extra disposal costs: refrigerators, matresses, couches, and televisions.
The Transfer Station is currently co-funded by town taxes and user fees. Senior citizens’ sticker fees are exempted.
PWPB members’ primary funding recommendation was a change in the fee structure to fully fund operations through taxes.
Aselbekian explained that members see the Transfer Station as a part of the community:
The transfer station has become, as I call it, a community hub, where not just throwing of trash happens. There’s much more going on at that facility. Therefore, we think it should be funded by the community.
The idea has, apparently, already had some push back. According to Chair Bill Boland in an email to me last week, some upset residents contacted BOS members when they mistakenly believed the BOS approved the change.
PWPB members also presented a secondary option – to keep the fee structure the same.
As explained in their report, members each voted for their 1st choice and 2nd choice options. Eliminating user fees received three 1st choice votes and one 2nd choice. Keeping the current system received two votes for 1st choice and two for 2nd choice.
An Enterprise Fund with “Pay as You Throw” was also selected as a second choice by two members. (No one selected as their first choice.)
That option would fully fund the station through user fees. The fees would be split by stickers to allow Transfer Station access and bag fees to charge residents by the amount of waste they dispose. An option within that allowed discounting the fees for seniors.
Options for employing Enterprise Funds with stickers or Revolving Funds with stickers/bag fees were disfavored by the board.
(Simply combining pay as you throw with current co-funding by tax payers wasn’t evaluated as an option.)
You can probably expect selectmen to schedule their vote for late spring. For the past five years, the BOS has discussed and/or voted on Transfer Station fees and regulations in May or June for implementation in September.
To see the full report by the PWPB, click here and scroll to page 5.