1. The Town of Granby has never owned the landfill or transfer station. As a community hosting a landfill, we received money for every ton of commercial trash that entered there.
  2. Any solid waste proposal involves TWO COSTS: a) operations b) disposal. Operations collects the trash. Disposal deposits the trash in a landfill or incinerator averages about $65 a ton.
  3. Long before it was a modern, regulated landfill toxic waste was buried at the landfill and transfer station site. For this reason, we made a conscious decision not to buy it.
  4. Charging a user fee means people must be able to opt out.
  5. Tonight’s vote puts the override question on the ballot for May.

How this proposal would work…

Trash would be picked up weekly. Recyclables would be picked up bi-weekly. You can use the trash containers you already have. We’ll supply stickers for your trashcans to identify them. Inside the can, you would use regular trash bags.

Weight limits. There is a weight limit of 40 pounds. If a worker judges a trash can to be too heavy, a sticker will be placed on it, and it won’t be picked up. If you have more than 40 pounds, you can either put it in one of the same blue bags we have been using or save it in the trash for the next time around.

Recycling. You can have as many containers of recyclables as you like. You can get rid of as many recyclables as you like every two weeks.

Yard waste. Based on the number of people concerned about this, I can tell there are a lot of people who do a better job taking care of their yard than I do. At the moment, we will have TWO days a year for yard waste. People will bring their waste to a designated location where it will be collected, most likely chipped, and disposed of. These TWO days are part of our proposed contract with Allied Waste. We realize that TWO times a year may not be enough for some folks, and we’ll continue to try to work out other solutions.

Flat tax vs. User Fee

The most controversial aspect of this curbside pickup proposal has been the fact that we are asking voters for an override. The fact is, all three of us would much prefer to offer an optional, non-controversial, user fee. The fact is, we can’t do it. There are TWO FACTORS involved with this:

 1) When it comes to user fees, people must be allowed to opt out. It took me a while, but I finally found the documentation to support this fact. The legal authority for municipal fees is found in MGL Ch. 140 and the three-prong test set out in Emerson College v. Boston (1984). We have no legal authority to charge a user fee for trash without letting people opt out.

2) If people were allowed to opt out, there wouldn’t be enough customers for town-wide pickup to be affordable. Granby is small. The economy of scale we have to offer a trash company is small. Only as an entire town, we were able to negotiate and receive a lower price for curbside pickup.

 Many people have pointed out that other towns, in spite of the law, seem to be able to charge a fee for trash. There is more to their financing than meets the eye or tax bill. Ludlow, Longmeadow, East Longmeadow, Feeding Hills, and Chicopee all finance curbside pickup with tax dollars. South Hadley, which some people have suggested we emulate, may seem to finance its system with a $50 per household fee and a pay-as-you-throw bag system, but there are other revenue streams supporting their program.

 How the plan is financed…

There are TWO costs associated with the curbside proposal 1) the pick up 2) the disposal. Our contract accounts for a number of tons of disposal, not an amount per household. We came up with the amount per household as an average of what people were currently throwing away. The pickup costs are definitely fixed for the next three years. Those costs can increase by 2.5% per year. We calculated those increases into the cost over the three years, and averaged out the payments. We pay a certain amount per ton for disposal. If we go beyond that, I’m pretty sure we pay for it. People will, after all, throw away different amounts per household. Waste Management’s limit is 50 pounds. Ours is 40 pounds. I think both cost and waste reduction were the reasons for the 10 pounds less. I’ll give you more info, when I get it.

Why can’t we keep the transfer station open?

Too expensive. There are approximately 2200 households in Granby, 1400 of those households have dump stickers. A number of households have not even been using the dump. The fewer people using the transfer station, the higher the cost for users. The Board assumed that as user fees approached the costs of private curbside pickup more people would prefer curbside pickup.

        Lease: $25,000 a month, or $300,000 a year.

        Actual Waste Disposal: $65 a ton, estimate $70,000

        Employees: $70,000

        Insurance: $10,000-20,000?

 Without paying for employees or insurance, running the transfer station would cost more than curbside pickup, and the cost would be split by fewer people. My estimate is $500 per person.


We’ll have hard copies in the usual locations, but you can read it online here.



Considerations for Voting on the Granby Curbside Collection Program

Special Town Meeting April 7, 2014

Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen.

 In preparation for this Special Town Meeting, the Finance Committee met to consider the SelectBoard’s proposal for a Curbside Collection Program for the Town.  I’d like to share with you, briefly, some of our discussions.

 The Finance Committee realized that no system for household trash disposal can be completely fair to everyone.  As long as there are at least two possibilities to compare, some households will consider themselves better off under one system, and other households will consider themselves better off under another system.  The arguments and examples can be endless, and they are all basically correct.  Once this point was understood by the Finance Committee, our discussion could move away from trying to reach “universal fairness” to trying to reach “real-life practicality.”

 So what is “real-life practicality”?  It is the interplay of two things:  First:  every household has to have a means of disposing of their trash; and second:  every household is going to have to pay for that trash disposal.

 Furthermore, as residents of Granby, we have an interest in more that just disposing of our own household’s trash.  We have an interest in making sure that there is a reasonable, cost-effective way of disposing of the trash of all the households in Town.  No one would want to live in a Town where it seemed okay for people to throw their trash into their backyards, or along the streets of Town.  A reasonable alternative has to exist.

 As the Finance Committee, we spent some time considering the cost.  Let me share two considerations.  The first consideration is this:  $363,041 is a remarkably good cost for an entire Town.  There are 2,045 single family parcels in Granby; if each had to hire a disposal service on its own, we would expect the Town residents to pay, collectively, between $600,000 and $800,000 for basic trash disposal services.  And extra costs for services beyond the basics will still be extra costs.

 When the Granby Landfill was in full operation, the Town citizens got two enormous financial benefits.  The first benefit was a visible annual payment to the Town that resulted in Granby being able to spend approximately an additional $1.1 million a year on average for the last dozen or so years.  This went mostly to capital items, and will be sorely missed.

 But the second benefit was an invisible reduction in Granby’s annual budget because the Town got free trash disposal.  We can now put a price tag on that reduction:  $363,041 a year.

 Because it looked like it was basically free in the past, that money is not in our tax base.  Now, and for the future, either it has to be raised by the Town for a Town service, or perhaps twice that amount has to spent by individual households for trash disposal.  It is a much better deal to raise the smaller amount of money through an override.

 The second consideration is this:  think about the tremendous purchasing power that comes from 2,045 entities negotiating together.  For starters, Granby’s price is guaranteed for three years.  On June 1, if some kind of service becomes mandatory for every household and there is no public option as an alternative (as there has always been in Granby in the past), imagine the pricing power that will be handed over to trash collection companies.  Why would anyone imagine that prices would hold the same over multiple years?  Why would anyone imagine that service complaints would be considered in a timely and friendly fashion?  Why would anyone imagine that it will be pleasant trying to negotiate among the few trash collection companies willing to do business here?

 In short, there does not seem to be an adequate way to consider trash collection just from an individual’s point of view.  Just like schooling, it makes the most sense to consider this from the point of view of the Town as a whole.  The Finance Committee thinks this is a good deal for Granby, and this is a good deal for the citizens of Granby.  We recommend you vote in favor of it.

In order for the program to take effect, residents must also vote at the town election May 19 to approve a Proposition 2½ property tax override to cover these costs. The program would last for three years.

A total of 428 voters checked in at the start of Monday’s meeting, which lasted over an hour, in the Granby Junior-Senior High School gymnasium…

Richard Domeracki, of Batchelor Street, said during debate over the proposed measure that while he believes it is appropriate for the next three years, the best long-term solution would be to use a transfer station again.

Select Board member Mark Bail said that if the program takes effect, the next step would be to appoint a Solid Waste Advisory Committee to help decide on a plan for after the contract ends, and that discussions could include a return to using a transfer station.

At this time, however, it is too expensive for the town to purchase the current transfer station and would cost an estimated $500,000 per year to rent it, he added.

Wayne Tack, of Miller Street, expressed concern that people who own multiple properties or expensive homes might have to pay more taxes even if they do not generate a lot of trash.

Finance Committee Chairman John Libera said that he believes the program is the best option for the town overall.

“Just like schooling, it makes the most sense to consider this from the point of view of the town as a whole,” he said

Why can’t we keep the transfer station open?

 Too much money for too few people means. There are approximately 2200 households in Granby, 1400 of those households have dump stickers. A substantial number of households have not been using the dump at all. The fewer people using the transfer station the higher the cost for users. The Board assumed that as user fees approached the costs of private curbside pickup more people would choose curbside pickup.

  •          Lease: $25,000 a month, or $300,000 a year.
  •          Employees: $70,000
  •          Insurance: $10,000-20,000?
  •          Actual Waste Disposal: $65 a ton, estimate $70,000

 Why can’t we pay for dumping with the blue bag system?

There are TWO major costs to waste disposal program: 1) disposing of waste in a landfill 2) collecting and transporting the waste. The second cost stays the same, increasing with time. The first cost, the amount of trash disposed of fluctuates. The Board was advised to use bag fees only to finance the actual waste disposal. Systems that used bag fees for operating expenses run eventually start to run deficits.

 Why should a residence that uses 1 bag a week pay the same trash removal fee as a residence that uses 3-4 or more bags a week?

 This is a philosophical question that was decided by practical considerations. The Board considered the fairness of our proposal, and it was a sticking point for a while. But a tax increase was the only way the Town could finance the program. The Town can’t just to charge a fee. The law restricts how a town can raise revenue to THREE different ways:

  1.       Taxes: requires a Proposition 2 ½ override
  2.       User Fees: collected from people who use an optional service
  3.       Betterments: charged when the Town does something that directly adds to property value

 If the Town proposal was optional, we could charge a user fee, but if too many people opted out, the program would be prohibitively expensive, or it would completely fall apart because we wouldn’t be able to meet our half of the contract with a disposal company. This proposal doesn’t qualify for a betterment. Taxes, which are generated at a flat rate, were the only option.

 Why would there be opt outs?

Our concern with residents opting out of the program had nothing to do with the size of the trash can being used. I may be mistaken, but I don’t think everyone with a private curbside contract is using a 90 gallon container. Our assumption was, the closer the cost of the Town proposal gets to the private service, the more people who had private service would stick with private service. Some people have certainly made other disposal arrangements. There’s a fine line between having and not having enough customers for a commercial hauler to be interested in servicing Granby. It wouldn’t take a lot of people opting out to make Granby unappealing to commercial haulers. That was the concern with people opting out.

 The 35 gallon barrels and waste reduction…

 I don’t recall writing that the “fee quoted by the trash company is independent of whether the trash company picks up more than a 35 gallon barrel of trash from each residence.” If I implied this was the case, then I was unclear. Although I voted for and support the proposal, I wasn’t in on the negotiations. I will get an answer to this question and post it. Speaking for myself, I wasn’t concerned with waste reduction just offering a service to the Town nor do I remember discussing it.

 A 90 gallon trash barrel is not a standard size. That’s the maximum size for a barrel. I believe that the trucks servicing those 90 gallon barrels are automated. Companies that responded to our Request for Services wanted to use actual people rather than automation to process trash cans. It’s cheaper to have actual people pick up cans in Granby than it is to have automated trucks pick them up. I suspect the reason for the 35 gallon barrels is that people will be emptying them, not robotic trucks.


GRANBY – A tax increase to fund town-wide curbside trash collection is the best rubbish solution, according to the select board which recently announced the decision after reviewing apotpourri of options for months that was prompted by the landfill’s recent closure.

The board has scheduled a special Town Meeting for April 7 when voters will decide if they agree.

At their March 17th meeting, the Granby Select Board unanimously voted to support a plan to offer curbside trash and recycling collection for every household in town. The decision comes after months of analysis by the Board and the Town Administrator, Chris Martin.

“The landfill closure forces our town to change the way we handle and fund our solid waste program,” said Martin. For many years, the Town of Granby has enjoyed free disposal for all of the trash generated in Granby because of a host benefit contractual arrangement with Waste Management. That agreement changed in January 2011 in preparation of the landfill closure. In addition, Waste Management will be closing the transfer station on May 31st. Because the landfill is gone, so is the Town’s source of income to fund our solid waste programs. We needed to offer something to replace the transfer station. This single hauler modified PAYT curbside collection program is less expensive that any other option reviewed.

The Select Board, with assistance from MassDEP’s western MA Municipal Assistance Coordinator, Arlene Miller, reviewed several options for cost effective, convenient, and environmentally-responsible waste disposal. Costs ranged from $300-400 per year per household to $146 per year per household. “After reviewing all of the options, it became very clear that the single hauler curbside option was the most beneficial program for the entire town,” said Select Board member Mary McDowell.

The new curbside program would allow the Town to hire one hauler to collect trash weekly and single-stream recycling every other week. A 35 gallon barrel of trash, which holds about 3 full bags of trash and weighs no more than 40 lbs., will be collected weekly. Additional waste can be disposed of in specially marked Town of Granby pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) blue bags. Most residents will be able to fit all of their trash into a 35-gallonbag or barrel each week. The 35 gallon barrels are part of Granby’s Waste Reduction Program intended to encourage recycling; the Town initiated that program last year with the use of PAYT blue bags.

Residents can dispose of recyclables every other week. Single-stream recycling means that recyclables can all be mixed together. Free blue bins and “recycling” decals will be available at Town Hall to help with your recycling. Residents may use any barrel or container for recycling so log as it is clearly marked “recycling” and does not weigh more than 40 pounds.

The Select Board is proposing that the town approve an over-ride in the amount of $363,041 ($.63/1000 valuation or $146 per year for the average family), which will allow the town to raise the money from taxes to fund this program. Board Chairman, Lou Barry said that “he was not in favor of asking the residents for an over-ride at first, but after reviewing all the options he agrees that this proposal is the most financially desirable waste collection and disposal option available.

An over-ride requires two successful majority votes: one at town meeting and the second at a general election. The Select Board has scheduled a special town meeting for April 7th and the general election date has been set for May 19th. Curbside collection could begin as soon as June 1st if the over-ride is successful.

To find out more about the proposed curbside collection program, attend a public information meeting on this issue on April 2, 2014 at 6:30 PM at the Granby Senior Center. Information is also available on the Select Board Blog at http://granbyselectboard.wordpress.com or the town’s web site at www.granby-ma.gov.


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