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Letters to the Editor: Salisbury landfill wasting money

As most Salisbury residents know, the selectboard set up an Ad Hoc Landfill Committee for the purpose of researching the possibility of closing the Salisbury landfill based on a non-binding vote in 2015. The members of this committee are Martha Sullivan (selectboard chair), Pedie O’Brien (committee chair and landfill administrator), Sid Hutchins (landfill operator), and David Nuceder, Kip Andres and Sheila Conroy (interested citizens).
The summer edition of the “Spotted Salamander,” our local newsletter, included a letter to the editor from Martha Sullivan. Yes, we are both members of the committee, but we do have different viewpoints. I would like to share mine.
Both of us made remarks about closing that seemed in opposition to each other. I would like to clarify this confusion. I said, “If we don’t close, we will be closed by the state.” Martha said, “The state is not pushing the closing of the landfill; in fact, our certification is good until 2024.”
First, the fact is, there are only two landfills open in the state; one is Salisbury and the other is Coventry. This fact was given to me by John Faye of Agency of Natural Resources. No, the state is not pushing us to close as such, but due to the fact that the rules and regulations that we must follow according to our SWIP (Solid Waste Implementation Plan), we are being pushed to close because the financial aspects of keeping it open are fast becoming prohibitive. 
For instance, last year, we were required to have two household hazardous waste drop-off events. This year three and next year four at the cost of $2,500 per set-up. This does not include the extra cost of the waste. Fewer than 50 people take part each year at no cost to them. Payroll expenses for 2016 were over $50,000. Free recycling cost $15,346. Engineering and soil testing cost $21,348. Every year we wait, thousands more dollars are required for closing. An added expense this year is the acceptance of food scraps and the cost of getting rid of them. This year, we are required to have a permanent drop off for certain household hazardous waste that is not possible; and with no website, we are in violation but the state is being lenient because they are aware that we are making an effort to close. 
Martha said, “Some say we should close because we are not making money. We don’t need to make money.” The fact is we are not even breaking even. Every year for the past few years, we lose between $25,000 and $30,000 a year or more out of the landfill monies.
Many residents have their trash and recycling picked up by haulers, which means less money for our landfill to operate. If we stay open or if we have a transfer station, we will continue to lose money either way.
We are not required by law to provide a transfer station. Perhaps it is time for all residents to be responsible for paying for a hauler. Last but not least is the environmental factor. Years ago, when I first moved to town, the “dump” was exactly that: a hole in the sand pit where everything was dumped. Will this come back to haunt us or future residents someday? 
I believe it is time for Salisbury to get out of the trash business completely. It is time for all of us to take on this responsibility. In my opinion, it is time to look to the future rather than piddling away money that could be better spent than subsidizing only a few. Now that would be in the best interest of the “whole” town.
Please join us at the Salisbury Congregational Church on Wednesday, June 21, at 7 p.m. We will be discussing the pros and cons of joining the Solid Waste Management District and to answer questions you may have.
Pedie O’Brien
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