Waste District works toward winding down operations

Jan 8, 2020

MARION — A subcommittee of the Carver Marion Wareham Regional Refuse Disposal District met on Wednesday to start working out the details of the district’s transition away from operating the transfer stations, which will be closed at the end of 2020.

The Waste District was formed by Carver, Marion and Wareham in 1975 to allow the three towns to negotiate jointly with Covanta SEMASS, a waste-to-energy company in Rochester so they could dispose of their trash for free in exchange for allowing Covanta to dispose of ash and trash for free in the Carver landfill.

The district’s contract with Covanta will expire on Dec. 31, 2020, so the committee needs to decide the future of the waste district and do so in time for it to be approved by voters at town meetings.

Complicating the issue is the fact that the district’s assets and liabilities are somewhat unknown. In part, this is because the waste district fired its Executive Director of 45 years, Ray Pickles, in 2018. Pickles was later accused in civil and criminal courts of embezzlement and larceny, with trials still ongoing and complicated by Pickles’ recent death.

A full assessment of the district’s assets, including the land at Rte. 28 and the equipment at both transfer stations, is underway. The district is also working towards getting a good estimate of its future liabilities, including health insurance and other pensions for current and former employees, and insuring the Carver landfill until the Department of Environmental Protection decides that it is not a pollution risk (likely in 20 to 30 years).

Once the district stops using the Benson Brook transfer station in Marion, the land will revert back to town ownership, although a deed transfer is necessary due to a quirk of the current paperwork. Marion will also assume any future liability associated with the transfer station.

The committee decided that towns would pay the district the assessed value of any asset they wanted to keep. For example, if Marion wanted to continue using the dumpsters at the Benson Brook station, the town would pay the district for the dumpsters.

If Wareham or Wareham and Carver want to continue using the Rte. 28 site as a transfer station, the town or towns would need to buy the land from the district.

The committee also agreed that the best course of action would be to keep enough money in the district’s account to cover all future liabilities in an attempt to avoid having to charge the towns in the future.

If the district ends up with funds that exceed the amount that could reasonably be needed for liabilities, the towns would first be paid back the funds they were improperly charged by Ray Pickles over the last several years. Once those amounts are repaid, remaining assets would be split equally amongst the three towns.

The full committee’s next meeting is scheduled for January 29 at the Marion Town Hall at 5 p.m. The subcommittee will meet at 4 p.m. that day.