Town Administrator Tony Mazzucco addressed this season's first meeting of the Maple Grove Civic Club.
ADAMS, Mass. — Town Administrator Tony Mazzucco fielded questions from the Maple Grove Civic Club about the transfer station to open Nov. 1.
Mazzucco, a new club member, outlined the extended services the town plans to add to the East Road Recycling Center and said it will make the center more equitable and sustainable.
"Nobody likes fees but we are going to have a fairer and more equitable system," he said. "This would generate revenue, make the community cleaner, more sustainable and it will help the town's budget."
The town decided to peruse a full-service transfer station over a year ago while looking for ways to rearrange town services and the budget.
Mazzucco said the recycling center costs the town more than $60,000 to operate annually. The town has to pay for hauling, the center attendant and membership to the Northern Berkshire Solid Waste Management District.
Without a full-service transfer station, the town is underutilizing its $20,000-a-year waste district membership.
Mazzucco said at first, he suggested closing the recycling center and pulling out NBSWMD but instead decided to try a permit system that would help cover costs and expand on a service.
"We would save some money and residents could just use the North Adams transfer center but people didn't like that idea," he said. "People like to recycle local and use the landfill so we looked at adding a fee."
Mazzucco said upwards of 250 to 300 people visit the recycling center on a busy day and between 150 and 200 residents use the North Adams Transfer Station. He said if these Adams residents and others start disposing of their trash locally, the new revenue would make the transfer station more affordable.
"This is a service that people are otherwise going to pay for. You are always going to pay to remove your trash," he said. "Some people will be happy with their private hauler but we will be more than happy to take your trash because it helps the tax rate and it helps keep town employees employed."
He said smaller communities in the area have "vibrant" transfer stations programs. He noted Hinsdale, which has a population of 1,200, sells 500 permits. The main goal would be to make the transfer station cost neutral.
Mazzucco added that the town no longer makes money from recyclables and taking brush and yard clippings only use up town workers' time.
He added that a fee would also eliminate "free riders" who dump more brush and lawn clippings than the allotted yearly amount.
"There are some people that come up multiple times with multiple truck loads and they swear up and down that it all came from their property," Mazzucco said. "But if you looked at the amount of yard waste we get up there you would think that there wouldn't be a single tree left in Adams."
He added that the setup was inexpensive and completely covered within the town's operating budget. McCann Technical School students built a shed for the attendant, the Department of Public Works made small upgrades to the center and the town brought electricity in to power a trash compactor that is rented for the time being.
"I want to make sure that we can get out of it down the road if we have to because I am always looking five to 10 years down the road just in case things change," Mazzucco said.
He added that the application process went smoothly with the Department of Environmental Protection because the Landfill Closure Committee made sure to keep the town's application open 20 years ago.
"They were very, very, very smart when they closed the landfill. Not only did they actually generate money when they closed the landfill they kept our permit open," he said. "It made this a very easy process with DEP."
Mazzucco said the permits will go on sale in mid-October for $25. He said this fee will increase to $75 once the town begins the new fiscal year.
He said the town will use bag stickers instead of specific town garbage bags so people can still use whatever bags they want.
33-gallon bags are the maximum size allowed.
He said stickers will come in books of five and cost $1. Next fiscal year, the price may increase.
He added that the transfer station's hours of operation may also fluctuate depending on what best serves the residents.
Mazzucco was also asked if the town made any headway in possibly accepting septic waste at the Wastewater Treatment Plant.
He responded that the town hired engineers to look at the costs and impacts of taking septic waste from haulers and, so far, it looks like a possible new source of revenue.
"It looks positive and it looks like we can start off with one or two small contracts with our current equipment," he said. "It will require some other investments if we want to take bigger contracts but they think we can get north of $100,000 in septic revenue after our expenses."
Mazzucco said the "behemoth" wastewater treatment plant was designed to handle 10 million gallons a day. He said it on average handles 2 million.
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