State agency OKs Bristol landfill

BRISTOL — The Bristol landfill, one of two remaining town-owned dumps in the state, is on course to close in 2029. But to meet that deadline, the town of Bristol requires a Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) certification from the Waste Management Division every five years.
At the Bristol selectboard’s Dec. 6 meeting, Town Administrator Bill Bryant notified the board that the landfill had received draft certification. The selectboard looked at the draft, made a few alterations and will send it back to ANR for final approval.
Selectwoman Sharon Compagna found a line in the draft that calls for landfill records to be kept at the landfill itself. Questioning the security of this storage place, the selectboard changed the line so that the records could be kept in Holley Hall.
But why does Bristol still have a landfill?
“It’s (a matter of) local control, and I guess it’s also a matter of dealing with our own issue locally,” said Bryant. “It’s sort of the opposite of NIMBY — not in my back yard. It’s our trash we’re putting it in our backyard.”
Bryant explained the town is trying to stay out of the red with the landfill, while, at the same time, meeting state guidelines to close the landfill in 2029. This date is based on a calculation of the landfill’s capacity and town’s financial ability to close it.
“It’s a complicated formula,” said Bryant. “It’s based on an estimation of how much capacity has been used for the year and it’s an estimation of the remaining useful life of the landfill and the amount of money we still need to accumulate to close it.”
Ensuring that the town has the funds to close the landfill in 2029 is crucial to the operation, explained Bryant. Bristol, after all, does not have the deep pockets of a major power supplier like Entergy, which own the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.
“We’re not Entergy. We can’t just pack up our bags and leave the state,” he said. “The obligation of the taxpayers of Bristol to close that landfill will be there. The idea is to have the users of the landfill pay for it now, so when it’s time to close it, there’s money. And both the state and the town are interested in making sure that happens, although we have differences sometimes about how that gets calculated.”
The selectboard also signed off on a $3,984 contract with the Addison County Regional Planning Commission for its consultation services to the Bristol Planning Commission as it draws up new zoning ordinances.
The funds for this consultation come from a 2010 grant of $12,350 from the Vermont Department of Economic, Housing and Community Affairs. The $3,984 represents the remaining grant amount and must be used by the time the grant expires on Jan. 30, 2012.
Up until now, grant money has been paid out to Smart Growth Vermont for its assistance developing a town plan draft and to New York consultant Brandy Saxton for her help formatting that draft. The remaining funds will pay for regional planning commission services, like drawing maps and consultation with director Adam Lougee to help rewrite the zoning ordinances. Lougee is billing the town at $90.41 an hour, which is the regional planning commission’s highest rate, and other planners in the regional commission will bill the town at their respective rates for the services they provide.
“Basically, we charge our rate, plus indirect costs (overhead) … so if different employees work on different parts of the plan, they work on different rates,” explained Lougee in an interview last week.
At the selectboard meeting, Selectwoman Carol Wells explained Lougee’s role in creating new zoning ordinances.
“The consultant does not tell the people of Bristol how to do their zoning,” Wells said. “(Hiring Lougee) is to help the planning commission word things correctly, so they are legal and clear, not ambiguous … The consultant is a professional on how to word these things.”
The contract’s chief caveat is that the zoning ordinances won’t be completed by the time the grant ends or with the funding it provides.
As Lougee put it, “At the pace we’re going, we will not get the zoning done within the time or funding provided.”
Furthermore, since the town plan will expire in January, the town won’t be able to apply for another municipal planning grant to foot the bill for further consultation until it adopts a new town plan. A town plan is requisite for applying for such grants.
Also at last Monday’s meeting, the selectboard:
•  Discussed the planning commission and government transparency (see story in Dec. 8 Addison Independent).
•  Signed a contract with the town’s new auditor, Sullivan Powers and Company of Montpelier. The $17,000 contract is $9,000 more than what former auditor William Yacavoni charged.
“We put the bid out … and we contacted five firms that were taking on new clients,” explained Bryant in an interview. “We received two proposals, and Sullivan Powers was the one we picked. William Yacavoni is a solo job … we worked with him for a long time. He was familiar with our operation and he didn’t have a lot of overhead, so we got a great deal from William. This is standard fare for auditors these days.”
•  Signed off on an $8,639.87 check for a monthly health-insurance premium to the town’s new health insurance provider Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Bryant told the board that this year’s health insurance would cost the town a total of $120,000, which is about $12,000 less than last year’s health insurance with Cigna. But there are some hitches to this new health insurance plan.
As Bryant explained it, if a town employee wants to see a specialist out of state, the visit needs to be pre-approved. If a town-employee has a child 26-or-younger who is on the employee’s health insurance plan and living out of state, the child will not be able to have routine checkups out of state. But if a town employee or family member on the employee’s plan needs to visit the emergency room out of state, that should be fine.
•  Accepted chairman Tom Wells resignation from the planning commission and commended his eight years of service and four years of chairmanship.
•  Agreed to devote its energy toward completing next fiscal year’s budget at meetings on Dec. 19, Jan. 9, Jan. 16, Jan. 23 and Jan. 30.
•  OK’d the closure of town offices on Dec. 26 and Jan. 2 for the holidays.
Reporter Andrew Stein is at [email protected].

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