SPRINGFIELD, Vt. — Recycling is becoming more expensive. This is driving up transfer stations operating expenses, and Springfield plans to impose a new annual user-fee and increase prices to dispose of garbage.
At last week’s regular selectboard meeting the selectmen voted 4-1 to implement a new requirement for Springfield and Chester residents to purchase an annual $25 vehicle sticker to use the town’s transfer station, and to replace the system’s current by-weight fee to dispose garbage to a by-volume fee.
Town Manager Tom Yennerell told the selectboard that the transfer station currently costs taxpayers at least $100,000 per year, or an additional two cents to the tax rate. Yennerell projects that by imposing an annual $25 vehicle sticker for transfer station access, and charging a garbage disposal fee of $3.75 per 30-pound bag, the station will generate about $124,000 in annual revenue.
“This new system is migrating us toward user fees and takes it off the taxpayers’ responsibility,” Selectboard chair Kristi Morris said.
Effective July 1 Springfield and Chester residents will need to purchase a residential vehicle sticker for $25, and $5 for additional vehicles, in order to use the Springfield station. Yennerell said the purpose is to shift the station funding off the taxpayers, and to reduce cost to dispose waste brought by non-residents.
Yennerell told the board that the other four municipalities in Springfield’s waste management district — Cavendish, Ludlow, Rockingham and Weathersfield — all require transfer station tickets, though he told the board that he did not research their sticker fees.
While the other towns in Springfield’s district do require residents to have vehicle stickers, neither Rockingham nor Cavendish charge the resident. Ludlow only charges residents $10 for the sticker, while charging $50 for businesses and $100 for commercial companies. This report could not determine whether or not Weathersfield charges residents.
Also on July 1 residents must purchase a punch card to dispose trash. Each 10-punch card costs $37.50. One punch amounts to a 30-gallon bag of trash. A 50-gallon contractor’s bag will cost two punches.
Changing from a per-weight fee to bags calculates to an increase of about 5 cents per pound of garbage disposed. According to data supplied at Monday’s selectboard meeting, a 30-gallon bag of garbage weighs on average 20 pounds. Springfield’s fee of $3.75 per 30-gallon bag approximates to 18.7 cents per pound. The current fee structure breaks down to 13.5 cents per pound.
The other municipalities in Springfield’s district also use a per-bag fee for garbage. Rockingham currently charges $2.50 per 30-gallon bag, Cavendish charges $3 per bag and Weathersfield charges $3.50.
Selectman George McNaughton opposed the proposal, stating his reservation about the $25 resident sticker and whether July 1 was too soon for residents to adjust to the changes.
Yennerell and Public Works Director Jeffrey Strong told the board that market price drops for recycled materials are primarily responsible for rising costs to manage waste. China, which used to receive 7 million tons annually of the world’s plastic waste for recycling purposes, stopped accepting plastics altogether last year.
“It’s getting more expensive and it’s going to continue this way until someone figures out how to dispose of recyclables,” Morris said. “Or else the green economy starts and we no longer use so many plastics.