NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The average city family can expect to pay about $22 more a year to get rid of their trash.
The Public Services Committee is recommending new rates for the transfer station of $133.45 per ton, or $0.0667 per pound. The old rate was $126.59 with an average yearly cost of $469.38; this will now be $491.57.
"We have a built in contingency to cover all the things, such as we pick up our trash at city parks, Main Street, any illegal dumping," Administrative Officer Michael Canales told a recent committee meeting. "We give out two bags per resident. And then we also cover recycling costs, and any environmental or fuel costs that we pick up during the year, which brings our total to $94.45 per ton."
Most of the cost of the transfer station is tied up in hauling away trash. The new contract that goes into effect July 1 with Casella Waste Systems will be $78.71 a ton.
At an estimated 4,000 tons, the cost for waste disposal is $377,789.65, or 71 percent of the proposed $533,806.07 budget for fiscal 2021.
The balance of $151,016.42 is for salaries, utilities, fuel, supplies, health insurance, engineering and repairs.
All other fees will remain the same as well as the current hours and days the transfer station is open.
The sales of resident ($60), non-resident ($80) and commercial ($85) stickers is expected to bring in $92,500 in capital income, about a $20,000 drop from this year.
The transfer station no longer accepts large haulers, and is considered a small-scale operation. It expects to sell about 100 commercial permits for small haulers and commercial-plate vehicles. In contrast, residential stickers are expected to be at 1,000 and non-resident at 300.
Canales said the average family generates about 4.43 pounds of trash a day, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This means it will cost $22.19 more for a residential family in fiscal 2021 to get rid of their trash.
"If you're really strict on recycling, that's the number one thing you can do to lower your costs per ton," he said.
Canales said the approximation of 4,000 tons is very close since the transfer station is currently on track at 3,890 tons.
All other fees will remain the same and we will be maintaining the current operational hours and days at the transfer station.
"This year, we're kind of about $30,000 over because of some other costs that we've incurred up there," he said. "But we ended up about $50,000 in revenue higher, so it is covering its costs. ...
"So in the end, the transfer station is able to cover itself."
The transfer station had been better at generating revenue but changes in the recycling market has reduced that ability. A load of recyclables could fetch $120-$130 but it costs $577 to ship. It also used to take in upwards of 14,000 tons but no longer does as it can no longer compete with larger disposal sites.
Questions had been raised about the $25,000 line item for miscellaneous. Canales said the line covers the cost of equipment maintenance and odds and ends like pest control. Tires for the backhoe are $4,000 a piece and fixing a broken scale can cost thousands, he said.
The city had looked into joining the Northern Berkshire Solid Waste District but it does not seem to be a good financial move as this point, Canales said, but the city is looking to partner with the waste district on some initiatives.
"One of the things is we want to get a Green Team started at our schools and begin the educational outreach in order to improve our efficiency," he said. In turn, the waste district needs a site for bulky and electronics waste.
Canales said he would like another Public Services meeting to go over some of the benefits of working with the waste district.
Residents can currently get their stickers at the skating rink since City Hall is still closed. They are available on Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Canales said this set up has worked out well compared to purchases at the transfer station, which can get chaotic.
"I think this is something we should continue to do even into next year because the rink is closed at this time," he said. "And because there's a cash register and everything right there. ... This is a much more controlled environment."