Marion Waste District decision sets off more confusion than action

Nov 6, 2019

MARION — Selectmen seemed uncertain about the future of the Carver Marion Wareham Regional Refuse Disposal district, and were unable to set the sticker price for the district for the coming year despite being offered significantly more freedom to do so than anticipated.

Marion voted at its Oct. 21 Special Town Meeting to begin negotiating an exit from the District, which was formed in 1975 to allow the towns to dispose of waste for free through Covanta SEMASS. But its vote caused so much confusion that Selectmen couldn’t pick up with planning for the town’s decision at their next meeting.

At an Oct. 24 Waste District meeting, the Caver Town Administrator indicated that his town may leave the district as well. In that case, the district’s ruling committee discussed having a “skeleton committee” which would deal with financial and legal matters that the committee now faces without dealing with operation and maintenance of the two transfer stations that the District runs, which would be sold back to the towns.

The issue for Selectmen was that they couldn’t discuss how to leave the district until they knew whether it will continue operating normally or whether it will cease operations of the transfer stations.

In October, the District had also had a plan to set sticker fees and assess the towns for revenue, as its contract with Covanta SEMASS expires after December 2020 and it needs a new revenue source. However, the District’s legal counsel said it could do neither, leaving the price for 2020 stickers up to the towns.

At a Nov. 5 meeting, Marion Selectmen discussed setting the price at something like $40 or $50 to mimic prices in Wareham and Carver.

However Selectman Randy Parker was uncomfortable assigning the stickers a cost when he had no idea what the transfer station would cost to operate, if the town were to take over operation of the Benson Brook Transfer Station. He requested more research from Town Administrator Jay McGrail.

One thing is clear: because the District is providing the stickers, Marion will be unable to have a joint transfer station and beach privilege sticker, as it has in the past.