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Trash district forecasts hike in recycling handling costs

MIDDLEBURY — The Addison County Solid Waste Management District board next month will consider a proposed 2015 budget that would maintain the same $123-per-ton tipping fee for trash, while requiring an increase in rates for clean wood and single-stream recyclables dropped off by commercial haulers at the district’s Middlebury transfer station.
The draft spending plan of $2,627,262 would also pay for a new public outreach staffer to educate area school students and other groups about solid waste and recycling programs.
This outreach is being encouraged as part of the state’s new solid waste plan, which requires the county’s solid waste management districts to adopt new “material management plans.” These plans will need to include a lot of data about local trash and recycling management activities to make sure the counties are living up to the state’s performance expectations, according to ACSWMD Manager Teresa A. Kuczynski.
The solid waste district’s budget is largely predicated on the amount of trash and construction/demolition debris it receives. The district’s transfer station budgeted for 18,508 tons for 2013 and actually received 18,530 — a difference of only 22 tons. District officials originally anticipated 18,521 tons of waste material being delivered to the transfer station this year, with current expectations that amount could grow to 18,956 by year’s end.
“We budget to break even, to keep up with our costs and annual contribution to our capital development fund, to ensure there are funds available when we need to replace equipment,” Kuczynski said. Workers recently completed around $950,000 in upgrades to the transfer station, including expanded administrative offices, creation of a new waste storage building, and traffic circulation improvements.
The proposed 2015 budget is being aided by roughly $114,000 in surplus left over from last year that has helped create a fund balance of almost $260,000.
“We are forecasting our tonnages much more accurately, despite the variances in the economy,” Kuczynski said. “It’s difficult to estimate how much trash is going to come into the facility, what kind of materials will come in and how they’re charged. We look carefully at the tonnage to determine how to set our rates.”
County residents will get some good news in the form of a stable tipping fee for the third year in a row.
“The only increases will be in recycling and clean wood,” Kuczynski said. “The reason for the increase in clean wood is because of the cost we are charged by chippers to chip the wood into mulch. That has increased, so we have to pass along that cost.”
Folks bringing clean wood to the transfer station in a pickup or trailer will pay $5 per load — or $10 if they are in a pickup towing a trailer with material. Large trucks and all commercial loads will be assessed a fee of $50 per load of clean wood, up from $45 per load.
But the biggest jump, according to Kuczynski, is the projected increase in what the ACSWMD will have to charge commercial haulers bringing in single-stream recyclables collected from the district’s member towns.
“We have a good indicator that the (recycling rates) are going to be a lot higher than last year,” Kuczynski said.
 Currently, the district charges $10 per ton for single-stream recyclables brought into the ACSWMD transfer station. Because of the increase in the fees that material recovery facilities are charging, or are anticipated to charge in 2015, the ACSWMD is proposing to bump the rate to $45 per ton to cover the cost. It will be up to the commercial haulers to determine how to absorb/pass on those extra costs.
Currently, the ACSWMD takes its single-stream recyclables to County Waste in Albany, N.Y., according to Kuczynski.
“They have indicated they are going to increase their rate,” she said.
That’s quite a change from only a few years ago, when the recyclables commanded profits in the marketplace that the ACSWMD would split with material recovery facilities.
But the market has changed.
“At this point we are being charged, and will continue to be charged, by the material recovery facilities,” Kuczynski said. “They aren’t sharing revenue; they are charging. It’s flipped the equation… ”
At this point, the district transfer station does not accept bagged recyclables from members of the public, because of its host community agreement with the town of Middlebury. The commercial haulers deliver recyclables to the transfer station or other approved facilities that accept the material. The town of Middlebury is on the verge of issuing a request for proposals for its expiring curbside recycling contract. Residents have until Monday, Oct. 6, to take an online survey on how they would like to see the town’s recycling program conducted in the future, including whether the community should contract with a hauler for both trash and recycling. As of Thursday, Oct. 2, around 300 people had taken the survey, according to Middlebury Town Manager Kathleen Ramsay. Middlebury’s recycling committee will consider the survey results at its next meeting — slated for 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 7, at the town offices — and potentially issue a recommendation for the selectboard to consider at its Oct. 14 meeting.
The ACSWMD Board of Directors is slated to vote on the 2015 budget proposal at its Nov. 20 meeting, following a public hearing on that same date. In the meantime, the budget draft will be sent to the district-member towns on Nov. 1.
Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com

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