WHITMAN — The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday, Dec. 18, voted to increase inspectional services fees for the first time 2010, and heard an update on the town’s textile recycling program.
“The electrical permit fees have not been increased substantially at all, and they’re far under what other communities are getting,” Building Inspector Bob Curran said. “We adjusted that so it’s more equal.”
Right now, the electrical permit fee for a single-family home is $140 while most towns charge more than $400, according to Curran. Building permit fees, with the increase, went from $10 per $1,000 to $12 per $1,000, with Selectmen’s approval and commercial fees went from $12 per $1,000 to $15 per $1,000.
“Basically, we went from a $40 minimum to a $50 minimum,” he said. “We did check with other communities and this is in line with what they’re getting. … I think we need this to run the department effectively.”
Selectman Scott Lambiase asked if Curran had done an analysis on the increase in revenues the fee hikes could create for the town next year.
Town Administrator Frank Lynam said that has not been done yet, but it could be, once it is known what types of permits have been issued.
“There are some significant increases here in the base permits,” Lynam said. “The assumptions here are that the fee results are from where they are calculated to be a permit fee … the other fees are kind of incidental and aren’t going to make a big difference.”
Assistant Town Administrator Lisa Green, meanwhile, updated the board on the town’s new textile recycling program through trash hauler Waste Management. The program kicked off Dec. 3 and collected 697 pounds of textiles in the first week — at one cent per pound, that brought $6.97 back to the town.
She defended the program against public comments received to the effect that it was intended to deter donations of used clothing to charities.
“Some folks felt we didn’t communicate enough with them regarding this program,” she said. “A lot of comments were made regarding peoples’ feelings about this program, that it’s something put in place as a mandatory program, that it forces people to not donate to the charities they continue to support.”
That is not the case, Green insisted.
“That is a rumor that I would like to stress is not true at all,” she said, noting it is offered through Simply Recycling to Waste Management customers as a way of reducing the tonnage of unusable textiles that end up in the waste stream.
“They are not expected to recycle things in the pink bags [sent to their homes] that they would ordinarily donate,” Green said. “These pink bags are mainly for items that they would not donate. If they would normally throw it away, we would hope they would throw them away in these pink bags and not with their trash.”
Selectmen Chairman Dr. Carl Kowalski suggested leisure suits — ubiquitous questionable fashion icon of the 1970s — fit that category.
Green said damaged shoes, used and soiled pillows and blankets would more likely fit the description.
“I was a little disappointed to hear someone make the comment that they got their post card and their pink bags and they ‘threw it right in the trash where it belongs,’” Green said. “The ultimate goal of this is to get the weight out of our trash.”
Landfills charge towns by the tonnage to take solid waste from towns.
“If we get our textiles out of our trash, that lightens up our load,” she said. “The fees won’t go down, but they won’t go up, either, and that’s basically our goal.”
Simply Recycling sorts the textiles, sending “gently used” items to consignment shops for resale, lesser quality but useable items will be sold on the international market and unusable textiles will be recycled to raw materials.
Green said she puts out a couple of bags a week, mainly with her son’s outgrown baseball belts, socks, shirts and hats, old shoes and old blankets or ripped towels.
“I suddenly have room in my closets,” she said.
Abington, Middleboro and Taunton also take part in the program.
Selectman Brian Bezanson also pointed out that many roadside clothing recycling bins are run by private enterprises, not the charities people assume them to be.
Green encouraged anyone with questions about the program to call her office at 781-618-9701.