Whitingham voters agree to leave solid waste district
by Linda Donaghue
Sep 09, 2017 | 3040 views | 0 0 comments | 130 130 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WHITINGHAM- A handful of Whitingham residents met at the municipal center on Wednesday for a special Town Meeting to hear the selectboard’s arguments for withdrawal from Windham Solid Waste Management District.

Selectboard chair Keith Bronson told the group, “We are looking to get out and, basically, form our own district for a number of reasons.”

“We pay an exorbitant amount of money (approximately $16,000) because we are mandated (by state law) to belong to a district,” said board member Greg Brown, “but Windham does not pick up recycling or trash. The only thing they offer is collection of hazardous waste. We are in the process of following guidelines to establish our own district.”

In addition to failure to provide basic services, Brown said WSWMD is “going underwater (financially) and they are trying to take us with them.” Bronson added, “Four years ago they had a surplus of $400,000. Now they have nothing? Somebody’s not doing their job.”

Bronson said the town of Winhall has already exited the district and board member Karl Twitchell added that Whitingham is currently managing its own waste, having contracted with TAM waste management.

He said the town has leased an additional compactor from TAM at the landfill, noting that, “we can double our load for the same haul.” In addition, he indicated there are revenues from recycling that will come back to the town to help maintain the cost. Twitchell said the town’s other compactor is old and expected to fail at some point. “At that point,” he said, “we would lease another compactor. In addition, we get percentages back from recycling. We’re not going to pay more than we did.”

Resident Don McKinley asked how much the landfill costs the town now. A copy of the exit agreement made available at the meeting outlined those costs. The town’s present financial obligations to the WSWMD consist of quarterly assessments of $3,917 with the most recent payment due September 1, and the full cost for the year at $15,668, with a final payment in June 2018. The town will also pay its percentage of the district’s workers’ compensation for the six months of July 1 through December 31, 2018 and the town’s percentage (3.62%) of the balance of WSWMD’s “post closure borrowings” account balance as of June 30, 2018. In addition, the agreement stipulated that each party would pay its costs and attorney fees in the preparation and execution of the agreement.

Resident Sherry Adams noted that, “at least with the new system, you have control and you know where the money is going. Sounds like a no-brainer.”

Bronson described one cost that did not benefit the town at all. “When they covered over the old landfill on Ferry Road,” he said, “they were planning a solar array to produce electricity to come back to municipalities except to us, because we had to get our electricity from Green Mountain Power, yet our dues helped pay for the array.”

“We feel there is no trust and we’re looking out for the better interest of the town,” said Twitchell.

In terms of next steps, Brown said the board would contact the district, tell them about the vote, and then plan to be done by July 2018. “Until then,” he added, “we are still a member and our representative (administrative assistant Gig Zboray) will attend meetings.”

Townspeople voted unanimously to authorize the selectboard to formally sign and submit a termination agreement.

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