Trash district eyes level tipping fee, lower rates

MIDDLEBURY — The Addison County Solid Waste Management District (ACSWMD) board is considering a 2011 budget of $2,410,761 that reflects a 1.9-percent increase in spending, but would not result in any boost in tipping fees at the district transfer station in Middlebury.
In fact, disposal fees for some recyclables are projected to go down, due to a more lucrative market for such items and because of the provisions of a new electronics waste law that will soon take effect.
“We are in good shape, considering the circumstances,” said solid waste district Manager Teresa Kuczynski.
Perhaps the most challenging circumstance — which is being felt by virtually all of the state’s trash districts — is an ironic one: As counties become more successful in recycling and waste diversion, there’s less waste coming into transfer stations. That’s a good thing for the environment, but at the same time means less trash revenue for solid waste districts to run their programs. Kuczynski noted the ACSWMD recently became the first district in Vermont to meet the state’s goal of diverting 50 percent of its waste away from landfills. The district’s trash is currently hauled to a lined landfill in Coventry.
“Our revenue is very dependent on the ups and downs of the waste market,” Kuczynski said, noting the ACSWMD does not ask for property tax contributions from its 19 member towns.
The district currently charges a tipping fee of $125 per ton at the transfer station for mixed solid waste and construction/demolition debris. It’s a rate the solid waste district board is proposing to maintain in 2011. And this comes amid projections the district will take in around 682 fewer tons of trash in 2010 than it did in 2009 — a 4-percent drop.
Kuczynski said the district is proposing to maintain a level tipping fee by running a lean operation, and thanks to an $84,821 surplus carried over from 2009. That surplus, Kuczynski said, comes from an unanticipated surge in trash coming into the transfer station during the final two months of 2009.
Ultimately, district officials are projecting the transfer station in 2011 will receive the same 17,901 tons of trash its expects to receive this year.
The following are some of the solid waste district rate changes slated to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2011:
•Non-friable asbestos material reduced from the current $330 per ton to $200 per ton.
•Fire extinguishers reduced from the current $11 each to $5 each.
•No charge for fluorescent bulbs shorter than four feet, and 50 cents for each bulb longer than four feet.
•Clean wood reduced from $55 per ton to $45 per ton.
•A minimum fee of $6.25 for large and bulky waste items (such as mattresses or couches) up to 100 pounds, after which point the items will be assessed at a per-100-pound rate of $6.25.
Asked what led to the rate reductions, Kuczynski said, “Our prices for handling (these items) are going down and we are passing the savings on to the customer.”
Residents will also notice some substantial changes in fees for dropping off electronic waste.
Customers have been charged $11 for disposing of computer systems; $6 for individual computer system items (such as monitors or printers); $15 each for console-sized televisions, or $7 each for regular-sized TVs. As of July 1, 2011, those electronic items will be accepted for free as part of a new state law that requires manufacturers of certain electronic equipment to fund and implement a system for collecting and recycling that material. Equipment covered under the law includes computers, monitors, printers, televisions and devices containing a cathode ray tube.
There will continue to be a $5 fee for electronic items not covered under the new law. Those items include small electronics, such as fax machines, VCRs, DVD players, MP-3 players, CD players, shredders and cell phones.
District residents have a final opportunity to comment on the budget at a hearing set for Thursday, Nov. 18, at 7 p.m. in the Addison County Regional Planning Commission office at 14 Seminary St., Middlebury. The ACSWMD board will then vote on whether to approve the budget.
In other ACSWMD news, the district board is proposing to create a $20,000 revolving loan fund to help member-towns with capital improvements at existing drop-off centers, or to establish new facilities. The fund will allow eligible towns to borrow money at zero interest for up to two years.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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