Dumping causes recycling cost spike
by Mike Eldred
Dec 29, 2017 | 2039 views | 0 0 comments | 56 56 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Wilmington has been incurring extra expense due to misuse at the village recycling area on Beaver Street. Much of that added cost comes from removal of unwanted trash.
Wilmington has been incurring extra expense due to misuse at the village recycling area on Beaver Street. Much of that added cost comes from removal of unwanted trash.
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WILMINGTON- Merrill Mundell talked trash with selectboard members at their regular meeting last week. Mundell, the town’s representative on the Windham Solid Waste Management District board, presented an overview of the district’s budget.

The bottom line for Wilmington, he said, was a district assessment of $16,234.42 for fiscal year 2019 – a $517 reduction from the current year’s assessment, not including one-time costs for closure of the district’s recycling facility. But the projected 2019 assessment is only $6,598 lower than the 2017 WSWMD budget assessment, which included operation of the distirct’s recycling facility.

Wilmington’s recycling costs have risen dramatically since the closure of the district’s recycling facilty. At last year’s Town Meeting, voters opted to keep recycling containers open to the public in the village, in addition to the containers at the town’s transfer station. But recently board members announced that the budget for the village recycling point was nearly expended, with six more months to go until the end of the fiscal year.

The board asked Mundell to weigh in on whether the town should eliminate the recycling point. Mundell advised against it. “If you don’t have a place for people to put recyclables, they’re going to put them in the trash, and you’re going to get charged for someone to take them out,” he said. “Or you’re going to find them on the side of the road. For my share (of the cost) of picking them up down there, that would be my choice.”

Fitzgerald said that some users were putting trash in the recycling containers, or leaving trash at the recycling area. Not only has recycling increased along with the cost, he said the town has also incurred additional cost for hauling trash extracted from the recycling, and the labor to do it. “We put sandwich signs out, but that seems to have increased the problem rather than decreased it.”

Fitzgerald said the board believes that residents of other towns are using the recycling area in the village, because publicly accessible recycling bins in their own towns were eliminated when the WSWMD facility closed. “We don’t want to go broke doing this,” Fitzgerald said. Fitzgerald suggested installing a video camera, and signs to let people know they were being watched. Wilmington resident Nicki Steel suggested placing signs at the bins warning that they would be removed if people put trash in them.

“They don’t care,” Mundell said. “A video camera is the way to go. Put it up, and prosecute two or three people, and that will get the word out.” Following Mundell’s advice, the board declined to close the recycling area immediately.

“We should have a separate article,” said board member John Gannon. “Go to the voters.”

“The voters voted it in,” agreed Fitzgerald.

“Let them have another shot at,” said board member Ann Manwaring. “We just have to figure out where we’re going to get the money to pay for it.”

Manwaring suggested that one way to pay for it might be to add a surcharge to the price of disposing a bag of trash at the transfer station. “A $1 temporary surcharge per bag,” she proposed. “Although, I’d like to have some sense of what that’s going to raise before we vote on it, because if it won’t raise what we need, it’s not worth the hassle we’re going to get for it.”

“Then at Town Meeting, if people want to pull the containers, we can pull them out immediately,” said Fitzgerald.
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