HANSON — A discussion on transfer station expenses, its deficit, and how the Board of Health plans to close that gap has been postponed to Tuesday, April 26 as detailed information on the revenues coming into the facility that Selectmen want to see are compiled by health officials.
The Board of Health and Health Agent Gilbert Amado met with the Board of Selectmen, Tuesday, April 12 to discuss the ongoing issue.
Amado said the Health Board did vote on a $100 sticker fee at the Transfer Station for a two-year period, and $50 for an extra sticker at the same address.
“That’s going to make things look a lot better,” he said about operations at the Transfer Station, noting there are $37,000 in retained earnings in the account.
The free cash subsidy sought to balance the Transfer Station line item at Town Meeting is $165,000, including $37,200 in retained earnings, according to Town Administrator Lisa Green.
There are plans for the Health Board and the Finance Committee to met in July or thereabouts to review retained earnings and exactly how much money the sticker fees are actually generating.
Selectman Chairman Matt Dyer asked if the increased sticker fee would close the deficit at the dump, noting that July is in the new fiscal year.
“That’s what it appears — that’s why we are going to do it,” Amado said. “We know that the existing sticker expires in July, so we have to re-sticker the town by July 1.”
There are about 2,800 previously allotted stickers in circulation. Allowing for about 400 lost stickers, Amado said the new fees should still “fix the deficit” of anticipated revenue.
However, he did not have a total number for income generated by the Transfer Station.
Selectman Kenny Mitchell said that was a vital number to have.
“How much total are we bringing in — including mattresses, including bags, including everything that’s any dollar that’s generated to the Board of Health,” Mitchell asked. “What is that? … I want to get back to your original statement that this is going to cover the deficit.”
Looking at the numbers so far, he said he disagreed.
“I want to be wrong on this,” Mitchell said.
Dyer asked if it would be helpful to postpone the discussion. Amado said it would and asked for about a week and a half to compile the figures.
Dyer said he would be looking for operating costs, revenues coming in and “how we are getting to zero” [for the level of subsidy required] as well as plans to mitigate inflation.
“I would love to see a business plan where the Transfer Station is net zero,” Dyer said.
“I don’t completely understand how this is going to completely solve the deficit,” Selectman Laura Fitzgerald-Kemmett said of the sticker increase and free cash transfer.
The total operating expense of the Transfer Station is $392,027, Amado said in response to Dyer’s question — $127,000 for attendants’ salaries and wages; $9,200 goes to utilities, uniforms, water and other expenses.
Fees to help defray those costs come from cardboard, stickers [from which about $120,000 after production costs], leaving an operating deficit of $272,000.
Amado said the cost of trip tickets and every disposal item for which a fee is charged also increased by $5 per item, according to Health Board Chair Arlene Dias.
Fitzgerald-Kemmett asked if any consideration has been given to reducing hours at the facility.
“We haven’t really discussed that — reducing hours — the main thing has been trying to reduce the cost of things,” Amado said. “You’ve got to get the mainstream waste reduced.”
Fitzgerald-Kemmett agreed the staff has a tough assignment in that.
Selectman Jim Hickey said closing the facility for one extra day per week would only save about $20,000, arguing that Hanson should consider curbside pickup with a single carrier.
Amado said the Health Board is also seeking recycling grants, and have signed a contract with Big Brothers and Big Sisters to remove almost 962 pounds of textile waste.
“Textiles are now banned from mainstream waste,” he said.
Residents are pitching in to help, as well.
“Residents of Hanson do a pretty good job of recycling and they do clean trash,” Amado said. “They don’t do nasty trash.”
A resident suggested it should also be factored in how many sticker holders would be lost to private haulers with the price increase.
Slower increases might make better sense, he argued.
“The whole trash industry is changing now,” Amado said noting that the 95-gallon bins private haulers once provided are now 65-gallons as haulers were losing profits.
Hauler are merging and state regulations are also changing. Finance Committee Chairman Kevin Sullivan said pay-as-you-throw would have required 100-percent participation to work.
“We didn’t want to jump to a town contract, because once they get here, it’s going impossible to get out and, if they keep increasing the price, we’re sort of right back where we started,” Sullivan said.
There are also a lot of questions on how the landfill would be capped and the environmental regulations involved.