BOH begins discussion on increasing dump sticker fees
Westborough – The town sends its trash to the Wheelabrator trash-to-energy plant in Millbury, and a new contract with Wheelabrator will nearly double the amount the town pays for disposal of its trash. At their July 17 meeting, Board of Health members began a discussion on how much to raise the cost of dump stickers to help offset the increased disposal costs.
Dump stickers cost $50 and are good for two years, for an annual cost of $25. Senior citizens pay half that cost. Although about $125,000 is raised per year through the sale of dump stickers, that amount does not come close to covering the cost of the town's trash disposal.
Currently, the town pays in the neighborhood of $500,000 per year to dispose of its trash.
"The cost of a sticker is not covering all the disposal, not even close," Public Health Director Paul McNulty said. "About $100 per sticker should cover the whole thing."
McNulty's estimate of $100 per dump sticker would only cover current costs. In January 2008, the Wheelabrator contact will increase the per-ton fee to about $70, up from the current $37. That jump will add about $200,000 to the town's annual trash costs. To cover costs after the increase, the Health Department would have to sell dump stickers at about $140 each.
Board of Health member Priscilla Federici noted that compared to other towns, $25 per year for a Westborough dump sticker is low. Southborough, she said, charges $100 per year.
Federici expressed concern about the town's seniors, many of whom are struggling to pay their property taxes. She said the Board of Health has the authority to continue a discount for seniors, and the discussion on how much to raise sticker costs would include how much of a discount to give seniors.
The board asked McNulty to compile a more extensive comparison of trash disposal costs in area towns.
McNulty said Westborough residents pay low trash costs not just because dump stickers are so reasonable, but also because the town picks up disposal costs for all other items except appliances such as refrigerators, washers and dryers, and many other towns charge for disposal of those items.
The town pays for TV and computer monitor disposal, McNulty said, because those items contain lead and the town wants to make sure they are disposed of properly. If residents had to pay the typical $35 fee to dispose of a computer monitor, he said, some might just dispose of the item with ordinary trash to avoid the fee.
The town also pays for residents to dispose of furniture, mattresses and bedding, car batteries, metal items such as lawn mowers and exercise equipment, yard waste, and two barrels of construction and demolition material per resident per week.
The Board of Health last raised dump sticker rates in 2004, from $40 for two years to $50 for two years. Stickers are sold on the town's fiscal year cycle, so new stickers must be purchased by July 1 every other year. Current stickers are good until June 30, 2008.
The Board of Health indicated that it would continue the discussion on raising rates over the next several months, and would make a decision by next spring.
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