County trash district keeps fees stable for next year
MIDDLEBURY — Addison County Solid Waste Management District (ACSWMD) officials have drafted a 2016 spending plan of $2,818,754 that would require no increase in the current $123-per-ton tipping fee for trash, and would keep level the rates it charges for receiving household hazardous waste and recyclables handled at its transfer station off Route 7 South in Middlebury.
A major reason for the district’s financial stability is an uptick in trash the transfer station has been receiving — a trend that ACSWMD officials believe will continue into next year. Officials had banked on the transfer station receiving a combined total of 18,956 tons during the 2015 calendar year. But recent trends have compelled the district to ratchet up that estimate to 20,194 tons, according to District Manager Teresa Kuczynski.
More waste coming into the transfer station means more revenue to offset expenses and subsidize district programs, Kuczynski noted. The ACSWMD is a fee-based operation and not dependent on property taxes.
“Construction debris is on the rise,” Kuczynski said. “August was a bit slow (for waste intake), but the spring was busy and we had a busy September. I think the economy is improving.”
Of course there are no guarantees that the district will hit its loftier trash estimate when 2015 draws to a close, but officials believe they are on sound footing. They are optimistic enough that they are projecting a carryover surplus of $286,417 into the 2016 budget. They are also recommending the creation of two new stabilization funds, at $100,000 each. One of the funds is designed to keep recycling rates stable into the future; the other is to provide a financial cushion for the recycling (composting) of organic materials, mandated by Vermont’s Act 148. That law, among other things, requires that haulers and solid waste facilities collect food waste by 2017.
Kuczynski explained that the market for recyclables is in constant fluctuation (and has been at a low point, recently), while the cost of handling organics is still uncertain. Plans call for the state’s solid waste managers to continue to lobby the 2016 Legislature for financial support in implementing Act 148, according to Kuczynski.
While there will be no increase in the district’s tipping fees or transfer station rates, there will be a few changes to aid consumers.
First, plans call for the transfer station household hazardous waste collection center to be open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. The center is currently closed to such material at noon those days, Kuczynski noted.
Second, there will be a change in funding for the district’s recycling program single-use (non-rechargeable) batteries. The ACSWMD had proactively taken on this expense itself as a service to local residents. But a new law will require the producers of those batteries to take on the expense, rather than the district. A company called “Call 2 Recycle” will be taking over management of the program statewide.
ADDISON COUNTY SOLID Waste Management District Manager Teresa Kuczynski stands in front of some of the new residential-use buildings on the ACSWMD transfer station site in Middlebury.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
The district will have its annual report out on Nov. 1, which will give details on the proposed 2016 spending plan and an accounting of ACSWMD activities in 2015. The ACSWMD board will convene a public hearing on the proposed budget on Thursday, Nov. 19. Assuming there are no calls for major changes, the board could approve the 2016 budget at that Nov. 19 meeting.
Meanwhile, district officials are pleased with Bristol’s decision this summer to re-join the ACSWMD after a two-decade hiatus. The community shut its local, unlined landfill in August and has replaced it with a local transfer station. The town of Salisbury is also discussing the prospect of shutting its landfill — the last remaining unlined facility in the state — and joining the ACSWMD fold.
“We have been hoping for some time that these two towns in Addison County would come back,” Kuczynski said, adding that the larger the ACSWMD grows, the greater economies of scale it will enjoy in dealing with solid waste issues.
“In the end, I think it will benefit the communities,” she said of Bristol and Salisbury.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].