Waste district committee wants more data for decision

Aug 1, 2019

MARION — The Carver Marion Wareham Waste Disposal District members sat down on July 31 to talk about whether the district should continue after Dec. 31, 2020, when its contract expires, and if so, how it should run. 

The Waste Disposal District was formed in 1973 when the Carver Landfill opened. The district negotiated with SEMASS, which agreed to take all the towns’ refuse for free. In return, SEMASS could bring all the ash from its waste-to-energy plant, along with some trash, to the Carver Landfill for free.

As the landfill nears capacity, the district needs to determine how it will move forward, or whether the towns would rather work individually to dispose of waste.

Currently, the district operates two transfer stations in Marion and Rochester where residents who have purchased a sticker at town hall can bring refuse, recycling, and some larger items for disposal.

On July 31, the district’s oversight board discussed the narrower but related issue of the cost and logistics of the district’s transfer stations after the current contract expires.

However, members felt stymied in their discussion because they lacked information on how much users might have to pay for stickers to use the waste disposal district’s transfer stations after 2020.

The towns could decide to continue working together as a district and keep the transfer station on Rte. 28 station open. The Benson Brook station, which currently accepts about 40% of the towns’ refuse, is likely too small to accept all of the district’s trash, said district director Jeffrey Osuch. The Rte. 28 station is bigger and has room to expand. 

If the district decides to stay together, Osuch estimates that a sticker allowing access for one vehicle for a year would cost between $200 and $300.

The cost for trash pickup for Marion residents is rolled into their general tax bill, although they have the option of dropping rubbish, recycling, and some larger items off at the transfer station in a vehicle with a privilege sticker. Privilege stickers currently cost $10 in Marion. 

Currently, a transfer station-only sticker costs $40 for Wareham residents because residents are not paying for the disposal of waste.

The towns could also decide to split up the district and negotiate individually with companies who dispose of waste.
The district or the towns will likely be looking at the cost to contract with SEMASS, the Bourne landfill, or Waste Zero, a plant owned by ABC which recently opened in Rochester.

Those who use a private company such as Waste Management or ABC to haul away their trash will also see costs rise, as those companies have been able to dispose of residents’ garbage for free under the agreement with SEMASS. 

Carver Town Administrator Michael Milanowski said that when his town raised the transfer station sticker fee from $20 to $50 this year, there was a significant drop in the number of users.

After discussion of all the options, factors and decisions they face, committee members said they wanted Osuch to make usage and cost estimates for a number of scenarios, including what would happen if the number of users dramatically increased. 

These numbers will help them to decide on the transfer stations hours, closings, and ultimately on the future of the waste district itself.

In an effort to cut costs and make sure only those who pay are using the station, the district has been more carefully monitoring who is using the stations. Osuch said the district has gone from 221 cars turned away eight weeks ago to 24 last week, cutting down on the number of cars that improperly use the transfer stations.

Osuch said he would like the committee to make a decision on the future of the transfer station and Waste District by September. He will work with Milanowski to come up with the cost estimates that committee members requested for various scenarios by the group’s August 21 meeting.

The end of the contract adds to the turmoil at the district. In 2017, the district’s regulatory committee discovered financial irregularities in its records. After examining financial records, the district fired its Executive Director, Ray Pickles in January 2018. Pickles currently faces civil and criminal larceny charges connected to his time at the district.