Residents who have grown accustomed to using the transfer station on Tuesday nights may be asked to adjust their weekly chore schedule.
Last week, Director of the Department of Public Works Paul S. Tilton suggested closing the dump one additional day per week, after noting that there has been a significant decrease in traffic volume at the facility since the town instituted a pay-as you-throw trash program last year.
He pointed out that long traffic lines no longer trail out of the facility and onto Route 130, even on the busiest days. According to the DPW’s traffic count, the number of vehicles entering the facility dropped from a high of 35,000 in November 2010 to just 22,000 for the same month in 2011.
Selectmen gave Mr. Tilton the go-ahead to begin making arrangements to close the facility one additional day. The station is currently closed on Monday but is open until 8 PM on Tuesday. In a telephone interview this week, Mr. Tilton said if he is going to close the station one additional day, it makes sense to close it on Tuesday.
"From a continuity standpoint, it makes sense to have it closed for two consecutive days. There is a lot of clean up that needs to be done on Monday," he said.
However, he said, that decision is not "etched in stone." He said he would have to choose another day of the week to keep the station open until 8 PM but has not decided which day of the week that will be. Any changes to the transfer station's schedule will not got into effect until after the new year, he said.
Selectmen asked Mr. Tilton to provide plenty of notice to residents about the new hours of operation at the transfer station prior to making any changes.
In addition to his recommendation to close the transfer station one additional day during the week, Mr. Tilton also suggested that the board consider raising the price of the bags and or dump stickers over the next four years in an effort to cover 100 percent of the operational costs at the transfer station. He recommended that no change to the sticker fees or bag prices be made until fiscal year 2015, the same year that the town must sign a new contract with SEMASS, a waste to energy plant located in Rochester. He said at that time, the board could consider increasing the price of the bags from 25 cents, 60 cents, and $1.20 to 40 cents, 95 cents and $1.95 while keeping the cost of a dump sticker at $55. He suggested that no changes be made to the cost of the bags or the dump sticker fees in fiscal year 2016 and then raising the cost of a dump sticker to $100 in fiscal year 2017.
Selectmen voted to give Mr. Tilton permission to begin the process for increasing the fees and bag prices in fiscal year 2015, with the stipulation that the bag prices and dump sticker fee would not increase in the same year.
In an update he presented to selectmen about the pay-as-you-throw program, Mr. Tilton said that in the past year, the amount of solid waste going into the facility has decreased by 42 percent while the amount of recycling, which includes bottles, plastics, and cans has increased by 74 percent.
Though paper and cardboard recycling has only increased by 20 percent, Mr. Tilton said this is likely due to the fact that most people were recycling these items prior to the program's implementation.
He also noted that bulky waste items, which includes furniture or appliances, has gone down by 70 percent.
He said this is probably due to the new $10 fee that is charged to throw out these items. Prior to the pay-as-you-throw program, there was no cost for disposing of these items, though the DPW did incur expenses to dispose of them. Users must now purchase a $10 ticket for each large item they throw out. Over the past year, Mr. Tilton said, approximately 3,300 tickets were purchased.
The DPW Director told the board that the pay-as-you-throw program has saved the town $129,340 in costs associated with solid waste disposal and $32,990 in the cost for disposing of bulky waste items.
In addition to these savings or "cost avoidances," he said there were other benefits realized as a result of the new trash program. He said the use of equipment such as backhoes and loaders has decreased, which saves money in terms of maintenance costs associated with wear and tear of the equipment. He said he no longer needs to bring in additional staff during peak periods, such as the day after a holiday, and can divert those employees to other projects.
While there has been an increase in recycling and a decrease in the amount of solid waste, there has also been a decrease in the number of users at the transfer station. Mr. Tilton said the number of dump stickers sold last year dropped by 500.