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Trash district budget up, but some fees will drop

MIDDLEBURY — The Addison County Solid Waste Management District (ACSWMD) board has approved a 2012 budget of $2,576,552 that reflects a 7-percent increase in expenses, but maintains a level fee for trash disposal and reduces the drop-off charges for some recyclables at the transfer station.
Theresa Kuczynski, manager of the ACSWMD, said the budget increase is based on the assumption the transfer station will handle an increasing amount of trash, demolition debris and recyclables next year.
“We are seeing an increase in volume and construction activity,” Kuczynski said.
An increase in volume means a boost in handling expenses — something the district experienced this year with unforeseen disposal trends due to Tropical Storm Irene.
The district had forecast receiving 17,901 tons of material at the transfer station this year, but is on pace to handle 19,826 tons because of Irene. Officials are budgeting for 19,220 tons of material in 2012 — a substantial increase over original 2011 estimate, but not as much as the amount that will actually be received this year.
“Hopefully, we won’t be seeing the same flooding events in 2012,” Kuczynski said.
The unforeseen boost in materials received this year required the district to reinstate a previously eliminated, full-time job of transfer station operator, Kuczynski noted.
That cost was in part absorbed by the added revenues from the increased trash and other material that has poured into the transfer station. The district charges a tipping fee of $125 per ton for mixed solid waste and construction and demolition debris. The district board on Nov. 17 voted to keep that tipping fee level for 2012.
In addition, the board voted to decrease the fees for some recyclables accepted at the transfer station.
Thanks to a new state law, there will be no charge for dropping off most fluorescent bulbs beginning in July. The manufacturers of such bulbs will be responsible for the recycling costs, Kuczynski said.
There will also be no charge for residential oil filters (previously 25 cents apiece), and old, 20-pound propane cylinders will be accepted at $3 apiece, down by $1.
Other district initiatives in the offing next year include:
• Going out to bid on a new disposal and hauling contract for the county’s trash. The district currently has a contract with Casella Waste Management, which runs through next year. The ACSWMD will solicit bids from throughout the region from companies willing to take on the contract, beginning in 2013.
Kuczynski said that it will be important for the district to have a financial cushion when its current pact expires at the end of 2012, in case the hauling expenses rise with a new contractor. Thankfully, due to budget cuts and increasing tonnage coming into the transfer station, the district began this budget year with a $207,167 fund balance, a reserve that is expected to hold strong during the coming months.
• Allowing commercial haulers, beginning Jan. 1, to bring in single-stream recyclables collected from their clients at curbside. This is being made possible through a recent renegotiation of the district’s host-town agreement with Middlebury. The district will charge $27 per ton for this service Prior to this change, haulers had to take these single-stream recyclables either to the Casella headquarters on Exchange Street or to the Materials Recovery Facility in Chittenden County.
• Planning to hire an engineer to do the preliminary design of an expanded reuse and recycling collection area at the transfer station. Any surplus ACSWMD funds for 2013 could be devoted toward construction of a new reuse area.
Kuczynski said that new state laws require the ACSWMD transfer station to be licensed to receive electronics and fluorescent bulb materials from throughout the state. That said, she expects more of such material to flow in.
“We are outgrowing our reuse area already,” Kuczynski said, noting more than 36,000 transactions. “We feel we need to have more room and more materials under cover.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].
 

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