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County trash district spending budgeted to rise

MIDDLEBURY — Addison County Solid Waste Management District (ACSWMD) directors on Nov. 15 will seek public feedback on a proposed 2013 annual budget of $2,667,844. The spending plan reflects a 3-percent increase largely driven by the creation of some new savings accounts designed to help the district meet the requirements of Act 148, a major new recycling law that will begin to sweep the state in 2014.
The new special accounts, derived from surpluses and savings from prior years, include $100,000 each to stabilize future recycling rates and to launch a new program for diverting organic material (food scraps) from the waste stream. The proposed budget also provides for a revolving grant fund to help district-member towns upgrade their facilities in order to comply with Act 148.
Endorsed by the General Assembly and Gov. Peter Shumlin during the past biennium, Act 148 calls for such things as:
•  Prohibition of dumping conventional recyclables in landfills by 2015, a ban that will extend to leaf/yard residuals and clean wood waste by 2016, and food leftovers by 2020.
•  A requirement that trash processors also handle mandated recyclables by 2014; leaf and yard residuals by 2015; and food waste by 2017.
•  A mandate that trash haulers offer curbside pickup for the aforementioned materials by 2017.
ACSWMD Manager Teresa Kuczynski said Addison County is in a good position to comply with Act 148. The main challenge, she said, will be preparing for the new rule requiring the diversion of organics. The district is salting money away to make sure its Middlebury transfer station has the infrastructure and program in place to handle the new material.
“If we have to expand our facilities, this way we will have a (financial) cushion rather than needing a big increase in the tipping fee,” Kuczynski said.
But for now, ACSWMD officials are focusing on 2013, and a draft spending plan that is 6 percent lower than the 2012 budget if one excludes the special savings accounts related to Act 148. The main reason for a lower budget proposal is that the ACSWMD transfer station has been receiving less trash, a trend that is expected to continue as residents become more adept at recycling and the economy conspires to limit major building projects that generate construction and demolition debris. Officials are anticipating around 18,500 tons of trash will roll into the transfer station next year, down around 750 tons from earlier projections, according to Kuczynski. The ACSWMD receives a $33.40 cut per each ton of trash left at the transfer station — money that is used to maintain facilities, pay the district’s 10 full- and part-time staff and run various programs. There are no plans for any additional hires next year.
On the positive side, the ACSWMD last month finalized a new contract that will result in lower trash disposal costs. The ACSWMD board on Sept. 20 voted 8-5 to forge a one-year pact with the Moretown Landfill for hauling and disposal at $55 per ton. This contract is a $9.50-per-ton savings compared with the current contract with Casella Waste Management, which was the second-lowest bidder. The Moretown bid represents an estimated $171,000 for the ACSWMD next year, according to Kuczynski. Casella had offered a savings of $7.50 per ton compared to the current pact, for a projected savings of $135,000.
“Disposal facilities are hungry for trash; there is a competitive environment now,” Kuczynski said of the lower trash disposal contract.
Kuczynski explained the lower contract will allow the district transfer station to lower its current tipping fee at the transfer station from the current $125 per ton to $123 per ton for trash and construction/demolition debris. It also will allow the district to reduce fees next year for accepting various recyclables. For example, commercial haulers will pay $10 per ton, as opposed to the current $27 per ton, for single-stream recyclables dropped off at the station. Appliances (such as refrigerators, hot water heaters, microwaves, etc.) that contain no Freon will be able to be dropped off for free, instead of the current $5 each. Freon-containing items will be accepted at $10 each, instead of $11. Charges are also proposed to be reduced — or eliminated — for such recyclables as automotive batteries, desktop photocopiers, compact fluorescent lamps, neon or specialty lamps, and household goods weighing less than 50 pounds.
The Nov. 15 hearing on the proposed ACSWMD 2013 budget will start at 7 p.m. at the Addison County Regional Planning Commission offices at 14 Seminary St. in Middlebury. If there are no strenuous objections to the spending plan, the board can approve it that evening. The panel has until the end of the year to approve a 2013 budget.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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