- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Charging a user fee means people must be able to opt out.
- 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
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.