SELECTMEN’S MEETING

AUGUST 9, 2005

 

Chairman Perkins called the meeting to order at 7:00 PM.

 

Selectwoman Brunelle, Selectman Andrews, and Selectman Bond were present.

Selectman Wiksten was absent.

 

 

HEARINGS, MEETINGS & LICENSES

 

Public Hearing – Trash/Recycling Fees

 

Chairman Perkins explained that the Board was holding a public hearing to discuss a proposal to amend the Trash and Recycling Fee Program.  He said tonight’s discussion would be limited to the changes.

 

Chairman Perkins read the proposals:

 

1.      All those property owners (households) that have been picked up during the first quarter (July to September) will be billed $54.00 in September.

2.      The bill will allow for an option to pay a flat fee of $18/month going forward or pay for stickers at $2.50 / sticker (bag) (Pay As You Throw).

3.      Those who elect to continue the flat fee will be given the option to pay the full annual fee of $216.00 in September and receive their $25.00 Landfill Permit free of charge (this was Jim Wiksten’s idea).

4.      Those who elect to pay the flat fee (either upfront or quarterly) will be required to put their trash bags in barrels with their street number and address written in Black Permanent Marker on the side of the barrel.  There will be no limit on the number of bags.

5.      Those that elect the Pay As Your Throw option will purchase stickers, in groups of ten, from the Town and place a sticker on each bag they put out.

6.      The Town will keep track of all Trash & Recycling Revenue coming in to establish that the program is designed to fully cover the cost of providing the service.

7.      Multiple family building owners must choose one or the other (flat fee or PAYT) for the entire building. 

8.      Each household will be asked to make a decision to continue with the flat fee, to choose the sticker option or to discontinue Town operated Trash & Recycling services by the end of September.  Once a decision is made, there will not be an opportunity to choose another option until the month of May, when anyone who wished to change their option will be able to do so.  Any change will take effect July first and be effective for the new fiscal year.

 

Chairman Perkins said the proposed amendments are a result of public comment in reference to fairness.  He said issues including residents who go to Florida for the winter, and the limited amount of trash a senior citizen puts out, are among those issues to be addressed.

 

Chairman Perkins opened the hearing.

 

Chairman Perkins told the residents that Town Counsel was also present tonight to answer any legal questions.  The Town Clerk was also present.

 

Selectman Bond said the program is a long way from perfect, noting that not having a limit on bags for $18/month doesn’t encourage recycling.  He suggested that a Recycling Committee should be formed to address how to make recycling profitable.

 

Selectman Bond also said trash/recycling fees should not be increased absent a showing by the Town Manager or Board of Selectmen of the rationale relationship in increase in fees and actual cost increases.

 

Selectman Bond also suggested that a revolving fund be created to place the fees to pay for trash costs.  A self-sustaining revolving account would have to be approved annually by Town Meeting.

 

Selectman Andrews said he did not agree with waiving the Landfill Permit for those residents who pay up front.  He said this would be a regressive tax, and not be fair to those who couldn’t afford to pay.  He also said there was no connection between trash pick up going to SEMASS and our Landfill.

 

Bob Ellis, Spruce Street, asked if the change would be permanent.

 

Chairman Perkins said it was not his intent to make it stay if it’s not needed.  He said no one on the Board is in favor of instituting a trash fee, but with the budget and lack of funds, a fee had to be imposed based on actual costs to continue the service.  He said if it becomes “not necessary” it wouldn’t continue.

 

Mr. Ellis questioned who would decide “when we’re rich enough”.

 

Selectman Bond said he has never seen a government become less dependent on money.  He said he didn’t believe that the Town would get rid of the fee.

 

Selectman Andrews agreed with Selectman Bond.  He explained that the Town will become dependent on the money.  He reminded everyone that his original motion was to re-examine the necessity of the fee after one (1) year.

 

Ron Files, of Rock Village, asked why our rubbish was costing more.  He explained that Lakeville charges $1.00 per bag.

 

Bob Lessard, 844 Plymouth Street, noted that a presentation by DEP had given an explanation on the bag program, saying this was the only way to be fair in charging a fee.

 

Mr. Lessard said the $2.50 per bag was an “underground backdoor tax”.  He said residents already pay for trash through the real estate bills.  He also noted that Bourne makes money on their recycling.  He asked what Middleborough made on recycling.  He also questioned a revolving account that is voted each year for the recycling program, allowing up to $100,000 to be put in it.

 

Selectman Bond said the Town earned about $12,000 last year.  He said the revolving account is for expenditures such as printing costs and baling wire.  He suggested putting together a Recycling Committee to analyze what needs to be done to make more money.

 

Selectman Bond also noted that most towns that charge per bag also charge a flat rate.  He explained that there needs to be a fixed source to predict revenue.

 

Mr. Lessard asked how much revenue has been brought in since the implementation of fees for items such as refrigerators, computers, mattresses, tires, etc.

 

Chairman Perkins said he would follow up.

 

Eileen Gates, Town Clerk, suggested that, rather than involving two (2) departments for item #3, a discount should be given on the bill if paid in full.

 

Ms. Gates also requested the hours of her full time clerk be reinstated for the extra work.

 

Richard Gillis, Bourne Street, said he had no problem paying $18/month, but said he had a “credibility issue”.  He explained that he has not received a “hefty raise” and has been asked to conserve water.  He said if the Town is poor, why give back $25.00 for the landfill sticker.

 

Selectwoman Brunelle clarified that the water ban had nothing to do with outside sales, or a shortage of water.  She explained that there has been a $1 - $2 million structural deficit for the past 15 years.  Because of additional money given to the School Department, and increased health insurance costs, there was no way to cover the budget this year.  She agreed the fee for the landfill sticker should not be waived.

 

Selectman Bond noted that the benefit for waiving the sticker fee is to get the money earlier.

 

David Cavanaugh, 83 Miller Street, said he didn’t understand why a 2-tier program was being implemented.  He said it should only be pay as you throw.  He also was concerned with stickers becoming wet and not sticking. 

 

Chairman Perkins said that the 2-tier system is the result of trying to make the system fairer.  He said there is not a way to make it fair for everybody.

 

Mr. Cavanaugh said he understood “getting the money up front” but questioned whether the benefit would be overridden by administrative services.

 

Chairman Perkins said the Board has been assured by the Town Manager and Highway Superintendent that it will not be an “administrative nightmare”.

 

Gerry Boehme, 35 Susan Lane, said he wished the Board would “be honest with the people”.  He said this is a fee that will not go away.  He also said that charging $18/month for unlimited bags will not encourage recycling.

 

Nancy Thomas asked if people would be able to join the program in September.  She also said the landfill stickers should not be given out free.

 

Chairman Perkins said that during the first three months people can opt back in.

 

Hearing no further comments, Chairman Perkins closed the hearing.

 

Selectman Bond said a couple things will need to be decided, including the dollar amount per bag.

 

Upon motion by Selectman Bond and seconded by Selectwoman Brunelle, the Board

            VOTED:  To remove item #3 from the proposal.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

Discussion ensued on item #6.  Selectman Bond said he would like the money to be put in a revolving fund.

 

Selectwoman Brunelle asked if salaries can be paid from the revolving fund.

 

Attorney Dan Murray said that originally it could not, but he believes this restriction has been removed.

 

Chairman Perkins suggested, rather than a revolving fund, to establish a separate fund to keep track of this.

 

Selectman Bond said he was bothered by the money going into the General Fund.

 

Selectwoman Brunelle said the money collected will reimburse the General Fund to offset the curbside collection.

 

Selectman Bond asked why a revolving fund couldn’t be established.

 

Selectwoman Brunelle noted that this would have to be approved by Town Meeting annually.  If for some reason it wasn’t authorized, there would be no curbside collection.

 

Selectman Bond said that was correct, and agreed that Town Meeting should decide to provide a protection level.

 

Chairman Perkins said there was no reason not to pass the amendments, and leave the details between Town Counsel, the Town Manager, and the Treasurer.

 

Selectman Bond asked if the money was put in the General Fund, could it be used for a purpose other than trash.

 

Selectwoman Brunelle said no.  She said the $50 million budget includes the trash costs.  She asked what would happen if the trash fees were “short”.

 

Selectman Bond asked what would happen if there was excess money.

 

Selectwoman Brunelle said it would depend on what revenue generator created the excess.

 

Upon motion by Selectman Andrews and seconded by Selectman Bond, the Board

            VOTED:  Trash fees collected will be retained for trash costs only.
            Unanimous Vote.

 

Upon motion by Selectman Andrews and seconded by Selectwoman Brunelle, the Board

            VOTED:  To direct the Treasurer to send a report with the recommended

            methodology of how to account for the fees.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

Selectwoman Brunelle questioned what would happen if more people went with the $2.50 per bag system and enough income wasn’t generated to cover the costs of collection.

 

Selectman Bond said the concept was discussed.  The Town Manager believes many more people would have to go to that system.

 

Motion was made by Selectman Bond and seconded by, Selectwoman Brunelle to accept the Trash & Recycling Fee Program in principle, and work out the details.

 

Discussion ensued on the motion.

 

Selectman Andrews said this would leave the details open-ended with no certain time to accomplish the task.

 

Selectwoman Brunelle said the proposal said the details would be in place for September.

 

Selectman Andrews said the Board is still trying to determine if the fee per bag is correct.

 

Selectman Bond withdrew the motion, and Selectwoman Brunelle withdrew her second.

 

Upon motion by Selectman Bond and seconded by Selectwoman Brunelle, the Board

            VOTED:  To table the vote until next week.

            Unanimous Vote.

 

 

 

Upon motion by Selectwoman Brunelle and seconded by Chairman Perkins, the Board

VOTED:  To enter into Executive Session at 8:25 PM, not to return to Open Session, to discuss Contract Negotiations.

A poll vote was taken.  Selectwoman Brunelle, Selectman Andrews, Selectman Bond, and Chairman Perkins approved.

            VOTE 4 – 0

 

 

                                                           

Diane Henault, Secretary

BOARD OF SELECTMEN