ROCKPORT — Town residents with questions regarding changes and options for transfer station sticker fees and the town's trash disposal system will get the chance to raise them tonight.
The Public Works Board of Commissioners will host a public hearing at 7 p.m., in Conference Room A of Town Hall, and is aimed at setting fees for the new sticker year, which starts June 1. The hearing will allow commissioners to review a transfer station questionnaire before opening the meeting up for residents' comments.
As part of the Department of Public Works' annual review and evaluation of cost, revenues and overall general operations of the transfer station, the Board of Commissioners decided to request an additional $20,000 for its fiscal 2010 budget for improvements to solid waste operations.
At its March 11 meeting, the Finance Committee voted to include the $20,000 request in the final version of the proposed 2010 budget, citing committee member June Michaels' report that she was "convinced that (the commissioners) would raise sticker fees by about $10 to cover the additional expense."
Yesterday, Commissioners Chairman Robert Burbank said the extra $20,000 includes wages and expenses at the transfer station, to be split evenly between the cost of a hiring a part-time employee to man the sticker booth, and various safety and sign improvements.
"The extra person is planned to check the new stickers starting on June 1 and likely throughout the summer months," Burbank said. "We indicated we will include the $20,000 in the direct cost of the transfer station and raise the sticker fees to pay for it. Each year we include some funding for improvements; this is not unusual at all."
Commissioners estimate there will be 2,845 sticker holders next year, meaning the average increase in sticker cost to cover the additional $20,000 is about $7.
Burbank said that Public Works Director Joe Parisi will present sticker fee pricing models and the results of the transfer station questionnaire, prior to the public comment period and the commissioners' vote on the new fees.
This year, people who elected to purchase a flat-rate trash sticker paid $150, or $105 if they were 65 or older. Stickers for a second vehicle were $30. People who opted for the alternative pay-as-you-throw program this year paid $35 for a sticker, or $25 for seniors, in addition to the cost of the bags. Stickers for a second vehicle under that format were $10 each.
A majority of sticker fees rose $5 last year, and if commissioners vote to raise fees this year, it would mark the third time over the last four years fees have increased. Residents saw increases of $5 and $10 to most sticker fees in spring 2006.
However, it is the discussion revolving around the town's trash disposal system that may inspire even more spirited debate tonight.
This year there is a dual system of stickers. Residents had a choice between a standard flat fee sticker and the pay-as-you-throw sticker. Of the 2,850 total stickers sold this year, only about 420 — or 15 percent — were PAYT stickers, Burbank said.
Many town officials, including selectmen and the town administrator, have voiced full support for PAYT, while commissioners say they have kept an open mind and are willing to consider maintaining the dual system or moving toward an exclusive PAYT system; however, because they say it would be unfair to those who chose to use PAYT this year, commissioners indicated it was unlikely the town would return to an exclusive flat rate sticker system.
Jonathan L'Ecuyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CURRENT STICKER PRICES
Flat rate stickers:*
Family sticker: $150
Senior (65 and older): $105
Second vehicle: $30
*Six-month stickers have been discontinued
Recycling only sticker: Not available this year, pay-as-you-throw sticker used instead.
Family sticker: $35
Second vehicle: $10
Bags: Large (33-gallon) at $1.75 each or small (14-gallon) at 85 cents each; both sizes sold in packs of 10 at Town Hall and sometimes transfer station)
Senior resident: $15