Waste not, want not: Board hears plans on municipal garbage

REORTER FILE PHOTO | Highway Superintendent Jay Card Jr. presented options Tuesday to the Town Board on municipal sold waste issues.

Since October the Town Board has been moving toward a crossroads ahead and examining options on which route to take.

The subject is municipal solid waste (MSW), the stuff seven out of 10 residents put in town bags and take to the Recycling Center. As Highway Superintendent Jay Card Jr. outlined for the Town Board at its work session Tuesday, there are several options to consider, including staying with a contractor who hauls the MSW off Island to land fills; move toward a system where the town hauls its own MSW; and up the price of the town bags.

The town is mandated by the state to put together a “Solid Waste Management Plan” (SWMP) every 10 years outlining the management, handling and disposal of refuse by a municipality. The board is now in the process of sifting through the plan, which was created by the town’s legal, highway and engineering staffs, to modify it before adopting it as its guide for the next decade.

Currently the town is losing money on MSW. The price per ton to haul the waste material has gone from $114 in 2009 to $120 this year. Proposed rates  will see a rise per ton of $132 for 2014 and four years down the road the projections come in at $148 per ton.

But while those hauling rates went,  the price of town bags stayed flat. From 2009 though this year a large bag cost $3.50 , with medium and small bags remaining at $2.50 and $1.25.  This has to be evaluated, Mr. Card said, with a suggestion that the bags go up a quarter starting next year through 2016.

There will be some pain involved for families, Mr. Card acknowledged, if the board approves a price increase for bags, with  a large bag per week costing $208 annually.

If the town goes into business for itself hauling MSW off- Island — the current contract with its hauler, Westbury’s Progressive Waste Solutions of LI, allows termination with 90 days notice — revenues could increase. The move allows the town “to control our own destiny,” Mr. Card said, but there are multiple costs to consider. These include purchasing a truck, containers and a compactor, startup expenses  that, with aid from the New York State Department of Conservation, would cost a total of $137,500.

The upside to the town hauling its own MSW is the ability to shop for the best deal at landfills and recycling centers. But considerations of expense for transportation, ferry fees and labor also have to be in the mix, Mr. Card said.

The board will continue its discussions and weigh alternatives.

In other news, Town Recreation Coordinator Garth Griffin told the board that in addition to new rates announced last week for the FIT Center, the town-managed gym at the school, there would be special rates for college students and emergency services volunteers. The students would pay $100, as opposed to a single membership of $200, and the volunteers would pay $150 for a year’s membership. Mr. Griffin also proposed a single day rate of $15 to use the gym.

Complaints of broken equipment and shoddy conditions have been addressed, including all treadmills now in working condition and new equipment on the way.

There had been talk earlier when the conditions at the gym were aired that a FIT Committee be formed, but the board and Mr. Griffin said that wasn’t necessary. Any future committee should be in an advisory role to the Recreation Committee.

Mr. Griffin said he already had 20 people lined up to be new members for the FIT Center for 2014.