Selectmen Urge DPW To Reevaluate Changes At Transfer Station
The Board of Selectmen heard from the DPW on proposed change at the Transfer Station, now co-run by Covanta.
The Danvers Board of Selectmen will take under advisement a proposal from the Department of Public Works and Covanta to decrease the accessibility to the East Coast Road Transfer Station and introduce a $10 tipping fee per car, as well as a $15 sticker fee to drop off brush.
At issue during and after the September 27 meeting were resident complaints about the decrease in accessibility to drop off brush at the East Coast Road Transfer Station from five to two days.
Chairman Daniel C. Bennett, who first heard about the cutback in a resident newsletter, commented that it was too drastic a change without public input and asked the DPW to consider adding another day.
David Lane, DPW director, originally proposed a change to allow drop-off on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays during holiday weeks. Chairman Bennett requested for additional time, as did Selectmen Michael Powers and Keith Lucy.
“Consider adding Wednesday,” Bennett offered and added, “in the future give citizens a chance to comment.”
Only one resident, Ed McCarthy, stood up and voiced his displeasure at the notice. “I was upset you sent out the notice to cut back to just Friday,” he said. If the consideration to add to three days a week McCarthy said would not mind paying more in order to do so.
Lane said changes were necessary for reasons of cost reduction, safety and to manage who is on-site. Since late summer, according to Lane, the partnership with Covanta to maintain and operate the premises has gone well, but there are a few tweaks to manage.
“During the budget balancing process, we were able to renegotiate our contract with Covanta and will save over $132,000 in operating costs by having [them] operate the scale house and reduce our tipping fee,” said Lane.
In a memo handout from Lane to Town Manager Wayne Marquis, tipping fee savings were projected at $60,500 per year and scale house operational savings at $72,000 per year.
In addition, some questioned the proposed minimum charge of a $10 per car tipping fee plus an extra proposed per pound fee for special items like refrigerators. Each resident would be capped to a 250 pound limit. The proposal, still in negotiations with Covanta, is to encourage more curbside pickup of large appliances and electronics and manage less small car traffic on-site at the station.
Selectman Keith Lucy was concerned those residents who have less than 250 lbs a year to drop-off at the station might be charged too much. “Not everyone goes up there with 250 lbs. to dump,” said Lucy.
Lane said there were safety concerns with the flow of traffic now that Covanta has several trucks on-site. Plans are to create another roadway entrance and exit to the brush drop-off site in the back of the station location so that traffic would flow more efficiently. Lane then mentioned there would be need for a DPW employee to be on-site to manage the flow.
Since 2003, Lane reported the tipping fee had been $0.03 per pound and it is now costing $0.34 to dispose of the waste. By increasing the tipping fee up to $0.04 per pound along with eliminating employees at the site, the Town stands to save money and cover disposal costs.
“I do not think we are in the business of losing money,” said Lane.
Selectman Gardner Trask said he could not support the minimum, especially when it would dissuade people from bringing small loads. He questioned why a DPW worker would be put back into the mix to cover yard waste after negotiating with Covanta to be on-site. "Convince me the minimum fee saves someone other than Covanta money,” he said.
Lane said there had been a built-in yard waste worker as part of the cost reduction.
Chairman Bennett and other members encouraged the Department of Public Works to go back to the negotiating table with Covanta to determine if there could be a lesser tipping fee per car imposed particularly during fall and spring clean-up season.
Lane will report on his findings at the next Selectmen meeting scheduled for October 18 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.