Changes coming for trash pick up
Northb o Changes are coming to the solid waste program in town and, based on dialog at the Jan. 25 Board of Selectmen meeting, the changes are sure not to be too popular with many town residents.
A report from the members of the Solid Waste Advisory Committee (SWAC) recommended the inclusion of a flat fee for the approximately 85 percent of residents who take part in the town recycling program. According to the report, the changes are necessary in order to help with the expected deficit of $287,000 in the town’s trash removal budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2011.
SWAC member Scott Mahoney knows residents won’t be thrilled with the changes, but believes they are a necessary evil.
“Some people are going to be angry with this decision,” Mahoney said. “There are 5,000 households in town and there are 4,200 in town that depend on this program. I ask you to make the decision that benefits the people in town.”
The committee proposed four separate fee combinations: a $75 flat fee plus $1.50 for small trash bags and $3.00 for large bags; a $120 flat fee plus $1 for small trash bags and $2 for large trash bags; a $165 flat fee plus $0.50 for small trash bags and $1 for large trash bags; or a $208 flat fee with no bag fees. Board of Selectmen members debated at the Jan. 25 meeting between the $165 and $208 fee plans.
The town’s trash removal budget was $794,770 in FY 2009, but revenue collections totaled just $267,584. The trash removal budget is considered an enterprise fund, meaning that a separate accounting and fi- nancial reporting system is used for municipal services where a fee is charged in exchange for goods or services. But lagging revenue has forced officials to take money from other taxpayer-funded programs to fund the yearly deficits.
Board of Selectman Chair and SWAC member Fran Bakstran agreed with the report’s conclusion that the $165 flat fee made the most sense.
“One of the best things about a compromise is that no one is completely happy,” Bakstran said. “That’s what we have with option three because fiscally, it was the best way to get the money needed for the enterprise fund.”
Selectman Jeff Amberson felt the $208 flat fee with the elimination of a cost for trash bags was the best approach.
“Based on either 50 cents or $1 a week, I don’t think that’s going to be a deciding factor on who recycles and who doesn’t,” Amberson said.
The SWAC didn’t feel comfortable getting rid of the bag fees.
“The bags are inherent in the recycling eff ort,” said Bakstran. “If we don’t have that, [residents] lose the incentive. There was also concern that if there was no control over the amount of trash put out that our tipping fee would go up and that the flat fee would not be able to cover the tipping fee.”
The average Northborough household produces 19 pounds of trash a week, or one large trash bag. Based on this formula, residents would be paying on average $217 a year for option three, as opposed to the flat fee of $208 for option four.
Either price is still more than $100 dollars less than that of the 15 percent of residents who pay for private trash pickup. Private trash haulers working in Northborough charge $396 a year for large-bin trash removal and $336 a year for small-bin trash removal.
The Board of Selectmen plans to discuss the topic further at upcoming meetings.
In other news, the selectmen were informed that Frederick R. Seely, owner of Tom’s Eatin’ and Drinkin’ Place, 4 West Main St., turned in the liquor license the business had renewed last month. The board had hoped to hear about a new business plan for the establishment from Seely at the Jan. 25 meeting.
“I move that the board have a motion to put this matter to rest and conclude it as far as the board is concerned,” Town Administrator John Coderre said.
The board also accepted the recent $85,000 grant the wind committee received from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative to further its goal to bring a wind turbine to town.
Members were thrilled with the progress.
“You are all a great group,” Bakstran told the wind committee. “The hard work and the energy you have put into this project has obviously paid off for us.”
The grant money will go towards a feasibility study on the proposed location for the turbine.
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