Transfer Station Fee Increases Expected in Mashpee

MASHPEE – A recent price hike for solid waste removal in Mashpee has town officials discussing possible transfer station sticker fee increases.

The town recently agreed to a tipping fee price increase of more than 50 percent and Department of Public Works Director Catherine Laurent is recommending a $50 increase for household trash stickers to $200 per year.

The DPW recommendation also includes a $5 increase for recycling-only stickers and single-trip permits to $35 and $20, respectively. There would also be an increase in the bag fee and would result in a $3 charge for more than five bags in one trip.

“With the change in our contract for disposal – the significant increase that we will now be paying for trash disposal – as well as the changes we have seen over a couple years with recycling, we are looking at having to increase our sticker fees,” Laurent told selectmen last week.

Town officials have been working over the last few years towards a goal of zero subsidies from property taxes for the operation of the transfer station.

“What is proposed to you tonight accomplishes that,” Laurent said.

Selectmen chair Andrew Gottlieb said the town did not meet the policy goal last year of operating the transfer station without tax subsidies.

“I have every reason to expect we are not going to abide by that policy this year,” Gottlieb said.

Gottlieb said the current system is inequitable and lousy.

“I just hate to go up $50. It’s a big jump,” said Selectman Carol Sherman.

Selectman John Cotton proposed an increase of just $25 for a first household trash sticker to $175.

Laurent said Mashpee’s transfer sticker fee rates are low compared to similar towns.

“I think our abutting community, Barnstable, has been over $200 for several years now,” she said.

Town Manager Rodney Collins said it would be possible for the town to adjust its budget for Fiscal Year 2021 to account for the use of tax money to fund transfer station operations.

“I think we are traveling down a slippery slope because we are going to be revisiting this year after year,” Collins said.

“It we are going to get to the point that we committed to two or three years ago then we need to at some point follow through with what we had initially said.”

Laurent said the solid waste removal fee increases are driving costs.

After months of contention, selectmen approved a requested price increase from its solid waste removal contractor in January.

New Bedford Waste Services sent a notification letter to the town on November 21 indicating it would be implementing a price increase for 2020 under an Uncontrollable Circumstances clause of the current contract.

The town entered into a 10-year agreement with the company for the disposal of solid waste in 2015.

The company requested an increase in the tipping fee to $93.75 per ton for 2020. The tip fee for 2019 was $59.23 per ton and that price was scheduled to increase to $60.71 this year.

New Bedford Waste Services General Manager Michael Camara told the board that the waste disposal market is in crisis.

Camara said the company is working with three different companies, or brokers, to dispose of the solid waste it collects from its contracted communities.

The waste will be bailed into specially designed bags and transported to West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan.

The new rate is locked in for 2020.

The price increase is due to diminishing capacity for disposal within the state and a reduction of overseas recycling markets.

With the new contract, the increase will add about $120,000 in costs for the town.

“Recycling is still less than trash,” Laurent said. “While there are some costs we still do get paid for some materials that help offset the ones we have to pay for.”

Laurent said it looks like recycling markets will improve over the next few years.

“Whereas trash, that number is not going to come down,” she said. “As Mike Camara from New Bedford Waste said, ‘it is really driven by a lack of capacity in the state.’”

Gottlieb said a trash sticker fee increase makes residents realize that there is a cost to disposing trash and that the cost of recycling is less. He is in favor of a Pay-As-You-Throw model for trash at the transfer station

“There should be an incentive to encourage people to do that, and yet everything we do that we blink and don’t do it,” he said.

Gottlieb said he does not see logic in imposing that cost on the tax rate and making people who pay for private trash hauling pay for others to use the transfer station.

The board will wait until next month to decide on increases.

About Brian Merchant

Brian Merchant grew up in Central Massachusetts and now lives in South Dennis on the Cape. He has been part of the news team in the NewsCenter since the spring of 2014. He studied radio broadcasting at the University of Tennessee.
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