NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

January 16, 2013

Residents adjusting to pay-as-you-throw

Officials say some seniors concerned at cost

BY JENNIFER SOLIS
Correspondent

---- — NEWBURY — A new pay-as-you-throw fee structure for rubbish disposal at the transfer station has been generating mostly positive feedback, but there are still some in town who aren’t convinced the program offers the best deal for all residents, Town Administrator Tracy Blais said.

The new program, a public/private partnership that has G. Mello Disposal Corp. of Georgetown overseeing trash management and day-to-day operation of the transfer station for the community, went into effect Jan. 1.

Town officials anticipate the program will be a revenue generator. In lieu of payment for its service, Mello will evenly split the net income of the transfer station operation with the town. In exchange, Newbury will no longer pay for any of the transfer station’s operating costs.

The new plan replaces an annual sticker program. Now, residents wishing to dispose of trash pay a per-bag fee at the transfer station. Small, white kitchen bags cost $1 and larger, black trash bags, holding 35 gallons or less, cost $2. There is no charge for disposing of recyclable materials and no limit to how much trash or recyclables can be dropped off. A listing of prices for large household items, construction debris and white goods is posted on the town website, www.townofnewbury.org.

Used motor oil, oil-based paint and hazardous materials of any kind may not be disposed of at the transfer station. Separate hazardous waste collection days will be held during the year. A list of allowable household hazardous waste items for these special days can be viewed on the G. Mello website.

People who previously used their transfer station stickers as a parking pass can now purchase a parking permit at the town clerk’s office for $20.

Board of Health Chairman Steve Fram reported to selectmen last week that the positive feedback he has received on the new trash disposal program far outweighs any negative comments. He said several people have even taken the extra time to come into the Board of Health office to compliment the town on the change.

However, after learning some seniors are worried about the financial impact of the new program, Fram said his team is working on finding ways to make the transition “less stressful” for them.

Some residents have also questioned the fairness of turning the transfer station into a money-maker for the town. They said they are unhappy property owners didn’t have a chance to weigh in about the change from a sticker program to a pay-as-you-throw plan.

Lorraine Norris said the new plan “was already signed, sealed and delivered” before the Board of Health held an informational meeting on the topic on Dec. 27. She questioned the validity of the poll that found most residents pleased with the new program.

Norris believes the average family generates more than one kitchen-sized trash bag per week. As a result, she said fees under the new program “will be huge” compared to what residents paid under the sticker system. She suggested it might be more cost-effective for homeowners to rent a 2-yard Dumpster to place in an unobtrusive area of their yard.

Fram acknowledged to selectmen that “any time there’s change, you have people who don’t like it.”

Selectman David Mountain, meanwhile, expressed concern over security at the transfer station, with the potential for large sums of money to be found on site. He also wondered about ways to reduce the potential for accounting discrepancies in managing the funds. But Blais said Mello representatives will be regularly removing funds from the transfer station so no large sums will accumulate there. She also said she felt confident in the integrity of the accounting practices in place.

Questions about the new program should be directed to G. Mello Disposal Corp. at 978-352-8581 or www.mellowdisposal.com/newbury. The transfer station is open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.