Shaftsbury again OK’s trash disposal fee hike | Local News
SHAFTSBURY – A previously approved but postponed increase in the price of garbage disposal at the municipal transfer station will come into effect on July 1st, the Select Board has decided.
During a meeting on Monday, the board unanimously approved the change that will increase the cost to consumers of disposing of waste at the station from $ 1 to $ 2 per 12 pound sack.
The meeting marked the Board’s first official in-person procedure since March 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic resulted in a shift to distant gatherings. A board member, Joe Barber, participated in a conference call Monday, as did several members of the public.
The board approved the change to the fee schedule – unchanged since 2006 – for the first time in January 2020, but was later delayed in view of the pandemic.
The change comes as the city continues to negotiate with Casella Waste Systems, Inc., the current manager of the transfer station, on the terms of a new contract relating to the North Road facility. The current contract expires at the end of this month.
At the last board meeting, city officials said they would prefer the city to manage the site and essentially limit Casella’s commitment to removing materials from the property. The cost difference between this option and an option where Casella maintains his leadership role is negligible, according to city manager David Kiernan.
In both scenarios, the cost to the city of removing recycled materials from the site is expected to increase by about $ 25,000 in the new fiscal year as carriers will no longer take over these materials without compensation, Kiernan said.
Kiernan said he does not want to start charging for recycling or composting at the facility, which could discourage these activities. All the more urgent is the need to increase the disposal fees for the plant, which is already operating at a loss.
“We can’t have it as a loss leader,” Kiernan said of the facility. “It really doesn’t pay off.”
Board member Ken Harrington asked if the rate hike could be capped at $ 0.75 per £ 12 sack, citing his longstanding concern that spiking too much could lead to illegal dumping.
Kiernan replied that a partial increase was not operationally practical. “It would be a quarter nightmare because we would have changes everywhere,” he said.
In addition, Kiernan said the current price is likely the lowest in the county. Even with the increase, using the transfer station will still be significantly cheaper than using a private service for home pickup, he said.
The board made no change to the $ 20 annual fee for the permit that residents need to use the station.
Kiernan and Select Board Chairman Art Whitman both said Monday that they had received positive feedback regarding the city’s plan to take over the station’s management duties.
Kiernan said questions related to the new contract have been filed and are pending with a Casella representative. An important issue is how quickly and when the recycling container in the system is replaced.
A month-long extension of the current contract, which would leave Casella managing the site until the end of July, could be required if negotiations drag on, Kiernan said.
During the public comment at the meeting, resident Sue Andrews, retired director of Greater Bennington Interfaith Community Services (GBICS) said she recently observed “an awful lot of recycling goes to the trash”.
Andrews suggested setting up a citizens’ committee that could try to “improve people’s behavior with regard to recycling”. Food waste that could be composted also ends up in the trash, she said.
“It looks like we can do a lot better in 2021,” she said.
Whitman said the board would take the proposal up for deliberation.
Andrews said she would be willing to join such efforts, although she expects to move to North Bennington sometime next year.
Kiernan said that once the city starts managing the transfer station, it will have more opportunities to educate the public about the proper sorting.
Later in the meeting, Whitman pointed out that it is financially advisable for handover station customers to recycle these items rather than throwing these items in the trash, since waste disposal costs are calculated by weight.
Composting is advisable for the same reason, Kiernan said, as food waste can make up the heaviest part of the garbage.
Since last year, it has been illegal to throw scraps of food in the trash. For information on the prohibition and possible alternatives to disposing of such waste, visit the Vermont Department of Conservation website.