Transfer Stickers through DPW (and Senior Center drive thru) this year (Updated)

Above: Residents looking for new Transfer Station permits this summer should head to the building down the hill from the Transfer Station, not to the Town House.

Three years after the sale of Transfer Station stickers moved to the Town House, it’s moving back to the DPW.

This week, the Board of Selectmen approved the change to permit sticker sales. In another change already approved last month, residents purchasing online will incur a credit/debit card convenience fee. (That means an additional $7.38 for anyone purchasing new permits .)

There is still an alternative “convenient” method with a lower fee. For the cost of a stamp, you can mail in forms and checks to the Town’s vendor.

Plus, the Town will continue to provide the “drive thru” sticker service for seniors in the summer. The service will provide 2 free stickers per senior August 1st – 16th from 12:00 – 5:00 pm. It applies to anyone whose birthday is on or before 12/31/54.

The price for regular permits remains unchanged from last year. However, as I previewed last month, the Town is eliminating the “recycle only” permits. That change was made since recycling has become more expensive than disposing of waste. Selectmen also referred to seeing the Swap Shop abused – loaded up with items that clearly should have been trashed (like broken mirrors and suitcases in poor condition).

So, why the other changes?

Convenience fees change

Last month, Public Works head Karen Galligan asked selectmen to stop “covering” online credit and debit card convenience fees. She said that it costs the Town $8,000 and isn’t done for any other of the Town’s online permitting or payments. 

[Editor’s Note: No one mentioned that the other online payments to the Town included an option to pay by electronic check with only a 25 cent convenience fee. That’s not an option for the vendor processing the Transfer Station permits.]

Location change 

Back in early May, Galligan proposed allowing residents to again purchase stickers at the DPW offices. The plan was to for it to be in addition to the Town Clerk’s office, increasing convenience. But, she wanted to start selling them July 1st, as has been done since the 60s.

Town Clerk Jim Hegarty reminded selectmen that during the budget season, he said he would put off the sales until August in order to reduce his budget. He argued that when people purchase stickers so far ahead of when they are needed on September 15th, many misplace them.

Hegarty was concerned that residents would be confused by the different schedules for different locations. He predicted that residents would show up at his office in July and be angered to learn they had to go to a different building that month.

There was some back and forth over what would anger residents more – waiting until August or the confusion about different schedules. That night, the board approved the rules with different schedules.

Following that meeting, BOS Chair Brian Shea sat down with Hegarty, Galligan and the Town Administrator. The end result was the proposed new rules eliminating the Town House as a place of purchase. That revision was approved last night.

The new situation is still an improvement from before the Town Clerk took over sales in 2016. For a few years prior, the DPW was charging a higher rate for “walk in” registration. It was an extra $20 for purchasing the permits in person in the office. That additional fee for entering the DPW wasn’t tacked on to this year’s rules.

The board is still open to bigger changes to either absorb the Transfer Station budget into the tax base or make it fully funded by fees. That will be explored this year for possible impact to the FY21 budget. Shea made clear that he will be looking for involvement from the Public Works Planning Board.

Updated (6/7/19 8:07 am): I initially stated to stay tuned for info on the senior permit “drive thru” at the Senior Center that will be taking place in August. It turned out that info was in my inbox. As I updated above – The service will provide 2 free stickers per senior August 1st – 16th from 12:00 – 5:00 pm. It applies to anyone whose birthday is on or before 12/31/54.

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Carl Guyer
3 years ago

Since the cost of the Transfer Station stickers for next year was not included in the article, I will assume it is still $250 or slightly higher. But again, here we go giving every senior in Southborough a free sticker. I never understand why this is done. My free sticker is on the front of my new Lexus ES 350. A few years ago I liked to poke at this issue by noting I bought my wife a Mercedes for Christmas, but that car is a few years older now. Does that seem right to you ? I see lots of nice new vehicles with grey hair behind the wheel at the Transfer Station. The free sticker is actually an incentive for seniors to use the Transfer Station, at no cost to them, while the high price of stickers for everyone else drives them away. Out of the approximately 2800 stickers for the transfer station nearly 800 are free to seniors and the BOS has issues with funding the Transfer Station, math lessons in order here. Add to this it only encourages wasteful behavior, a little political courage to help the environment sure would be appreciated.

Of course adding the cost of the Transfer Station into the tax bill will be a good environmental policy helping everyone understand the impact of their waste disposal.

I don’t know, must be a generational thing.

FYI : I was the chairman of the now defunct Recycling Committee for many years, so I have lots of experience with issues at the Transfer Station.

Al Hamilton
3 years ago
Reply to  Carl Guyer


I for one would like to see a pay per throw system perhaps with Sr’s getting a number of free bags but the reality is there is no interest in this system in town.

I seriously question your suggestion that paying for all of the transfer station costs out of the town budget would shine a light on the costs of the operation. Quite the opposite. It would be buried in the 7 figure DPW budget. If there is one thing I know, town budgets are not designed to provide useful information about the true costs of a service.

Your suggestion that we “Means Test” free trash services leads to a practical question. How do you establish who qualifies? Will we have to fill out a Town Income Tax Form? Perhaps just share our State or Federal returns with the town. Are you sure this information can be kept secure? Would it now become subject to a public records request?

The bigger question is “In the presence of competitive, tax paying private haulers, why should the town be in the trash business at all?”

Carl Guyer
3 years ago
Reply to  Al Hamilton

I think I may have confused you with my statement, I am not in favor of rolling the cost of the Transfer Station operation into the tax rate.

Now, you are absolutely right that Pay As You Throw is the right solution. I have publicly advocated for that for years. The main source of the lack of interest is the free stickers for Seniors. Mention PAYT and many senior started acting like their hair was on fire. Others were opposed, but it was usually the Seniors leading the charge.

I feel eliminating free Senior stickers would help get us to a place with a rational way to associate cost with use at the Transfer Station, help reduce the cost of operating the Transfer Station, encourage more recycling and help out the environment.

Now with the cost of disposing of recycled material greater than the cost of sending it to the incinerator, this problem only gets more complicated.

3 years ago

Mr. Guyer: If the program being offered to us senior’s is bothering you that bad just pay the full price for your dump sticker I’m sure the town will gladly take your money, as for the rest of us seniors on a fixed income the free sticker really helps out, the taxes are thro the roof now, I think it’s the least thing the town can do for us less wealthy.

Carl Guyer
3 years ago
Reply to  arborist

I have nothing against giving stickers to those in need, but for many that is not the case. Don’t forget there are those who are not seniors who are in need and could use a little help. There was a policy put in place recently to help those in need, so if you truly are in need of help, there is a way for you to get help.

3 years ago

Just because someone at the dump with grey hair was driving a nice new vehicle doesn’t mean they are 65 or older, They may have had a stressful event in their life or have worked hard for that nice new vehicle, and by the way don’t forget that all those people also pay an excise tax on that nice new vehicle

Steve Whynot
3 years ago

Hey Carl – I wish I had your disposable income – Not all Seniors are as fortunate – so YES… $250 for those on fixed incomes – can be tough and shame on you for suggesting this small token is taken from our Senior population. Guess we should all be put out to pasture – eh!!!

Maybe there should be a question on the application for a Transfer Station sticker that allows Seniors to pay for the stickers if they so desire. That way – you might feel better about it.

Or maybe our taxes should be based on the services we want or don’t want. We can pick and chose and pay on a Services Required basis. How’d that work?

Or maybe those that use the Swap Shop for their supply chain – should pay a percentage fee for what they load up and then sell at flea markets or any of the online sites to buy/sell used stuff – ( Hint: Swap Shop Abuse )

Seriously!! Shame on you for dissing on the Seniors.

Carl Guyer
3 years ago
Reply to  Steve Whynot

Hello Steve

Interesting response.

You seem to miss the point. I am simply pointing out that we have a policy of providing financial aid based on age and not on need. Age, like sex and race, discrimination is usually illegal. I would rather direct the tax funds used to provide this benefit to those in need.

Also, who is going to argue that this needs to be fixed. Shouldn’t be those who have been fortunate, such as I, who need to make the argument as responsible citizens. Making it the responsibility of those in need doubles the burden they bear.

By the way, the proposal to roll the cost of the Transfer Station into the tax bill is simply a back door approach to the same outcome. It could even cost seniors more that the $250 per year because now everyone in town will get a free sticker. Some will continue to pay private contractors, but many will of course be tempted to use the “free” town service. I don’t like this idea because it further dissociates individuals from the financial and environmental costs of waste disposal.

3 years ago

Carl Guyer stated, “I have nothing against giving stickers to those in need, but…”. What was it the man said about everything said before the word “but”? Fortunately for everyone in this town 65 years of age and older, it’s not your call to determine who is in need.

The town decided many years ago, knowing retired people aren’t receiving wages, to give a break to those 65 years of age and older and allow them to use the transfer station free of charge. It’s an effort to load up the car with refuse & recyclables and probably ends up being too much of an effort as people get older. Those people will simply use a commercial hauler – as many under 65s already do in the town.

As for the Swap Shop, ever since the “scandal” of a few years ago, it’s never been the same. Over the last year, with the advent of the recycle-only permit, the Swap Shop has become the Swamp Shop – filled with items that should have gone into the crusher. Eliminating the recycle-only permits should help in this regard. There is still something strange going on with the Swap Shop.

Using Carl’s numbers above, some 2000 people in town have paid for transfer station stickers. Using Karen Galligan’s number, those 2000 people received “free” processing of their online sticker applications at $4 a pop! Why would this town agree to a $4 transaction fee? Find another vendor! You know, like the one that charges 0.25 (twenty-five cents) for processing a tax payment from a checking account. Since it’s all done electronically, there is no way to rationalize a $4 transaction fee. Unless, of course, it’s really not $4, or $8000.

3 years ago
Reply to  doesn't_add_up

Visa and MasterCard charge for their services.
Merchants are usually charged in the 2% -3% range and even higher for some small low volume shops. And AmEx routinely charges more than V/MC.
There isn’t much to agree with when you deal with the giant credit card companies… Their position is simple… ” pay the fees or don’t accept our cards”… that’s why you see some merchants refuse AmEx….

$4 on a $250 charge must barely cover our costs…unless maybe the credit card companies offer discounts to non-profit and govt orgs…

Dean Dairy
3 years ago

However, as I previewed last month, the Town is eliminating the “recycle only” permits. That change was made since recycling has become more expensive than disposing of waste.

Environmentally, the most efficient thing to recycle are beverage containers, aluminum cans in particular. And because of the deposits paid at purchase, these recycled items do not impose disposal costs.

The Town should allow people to donate deposit beverage containers — objects of redeemable value — to charity at no charge.

Worse than the $75 recycling fee, the Town government will now charge its townspeople $250 a year for the privilege of being able to donate the proceeds of those deposits as a gift to a charity.

Have a place where people can donate their cans to charity without a fee.

3 years ago

very true comments Steve, I totally agree with you

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