Trash fees to double July 1

by Town Reminder

By Kristin Will
Staff Writer
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SOUTH HADLEY – With the future landfill closure, trash fees will increase.
Starting July 1, the fee for each size of green bags will double. A large bag will cost $2. A small bag will cost $1.
A flat annual trash fee will be implemented as well, at $50 per dwelling unit. A permit for the recycling/compost center will cost $20 per year.
At Tuesday’s Selectboard meeting, Department of Public Works Superintendent Jim Reidy said the Solid Waste Advisory Committee [SWAC] exchanged much debate about the rates, especially the $50 flat fee.
SWAC recommended basing the fee on the number of dwelling units rather than on the number of buildings. For example, a three-family house would be charged $150.
Reidy said he was “dead set against” having the flat fee be per-person.
“I think it’s the fairest and most manageable way to do the system,” he said.
Selectboard Member Sarah Etelman said this system might not be fair for residents who live alone compared to a six-person household or a family who recycles nearly everything.
Reidy said a six-family household would be paying for more trash bags than would a single person.
The town pays $230,000 a year for recyclables to be picked up.
“To track by the person, logistically, it’s unmanageable,” said Reidy.
Residents often call the department to ask for an abatement, saying their child is in college nine months out of the year, or the person lives in a different state for half the year. A flat fee essentially covers all bases.
“It’s not exorbitant,” said Selectboard Member Marilyn Ishler of the $50 flat fee.
The fee helps to offset the cost of the green bags. Reidy said without it, a large bag would cost approximately $5.50.
The landfill will close at the earliest on March 11, 2014. Because of this, South Hadley will receive about half of its usual host tipping fees, approximately $400,000.
In 2015, when the town has gone one year without a landfill, bag fees will increase again. Residents should “expect another jump to get us where we need to be,” said Reidy. In one year, a large green bag might cost about $2.80.
Abatements were set for qualifying individuals regarding the flat fee. Low-income individuals over 70 years old, veterans and handicapped individuals will be able to receive $20 off that $50 fee.
Ishler asked Reidy to explain his reasoning for a $20 recycling/compost center fee.
He said the department wants to get a firm grasp on what it costs to run the center and the number of residents who use it. Roughly one third of residents use it religiously, he said.
“The thought was to have a small fee to start with,” said Reidy. Otherwise, the cost to run the center would be incorporated into the $50 flat fee. The idea for the center is to make it pay for itself.
The town would collect approximately $40,000 a year from the $20 fee.
The Selectboard approved all trash fees and the abatement.