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Jay Card: Town can save, even make $$ if it hauls own waste

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | Highghway Superintendent Jay Card. Jr.has laid out a plan to self-haul municipal solid waste to the Town Board.

Highway Superintendent Jay Card. Jr.has laid out a plan to the Town board on self-hauling municipal solid waste.

If you want to save money and get things right, don’t depend on others but do it yourself.

That homespun wisdom is Highway Superintendent Jay Card Jr.’s idea to stop the financial bleeding in his department and the overall town budget now and for the future.

The subject is municipal solid waste (MSW), the stuff seven out of 10 residents put in town bags and take to the Recycling Center. About 700 tons of MSW will be hauled off-Island annually under contract with National Waste Services of Bay Shore, and this year the town is paying them $132 per ton to do it. That’s a 10 percent increase over last year and a whopping 15.5 percent spike since 2009.

It will get worse, according to Mr. Card’s figures, with the haul price gong up another 12 percent by 2018.

“People scream, why aren’t you holding the whole budget to a 2 percent increase,” Mr. Card said, referring to the state mandated cap on tax increases, unless a local law allows going above the cap. “Well, what do you expect me to do here?”

One way is for the town to cancel the contract with its hauler (by agreement, the contract can be voided with 90 days notice) buy a truck and equipment, cut deals with municipalities with landfills and Shelter Island will take care of its MSW itself.

Mr. Card has estimated that start-up expenses would include purchasing a truck, three containers and a compactor for a total cost $225,000. But after New York State Department of Environmental Conservation grants kick in, the town is only on the hook for $137,500.

As for where the MSW is hauled, Mr. Card said he has been in touch with Southold who would charge a tipping fee of $90 per ton. A landfill in Medford would charge $75 a ton, but after factoring in transportation costs, plus labor time, Southold is the more practical option, Mr. Card said.

Savings to Shelter Island by hauling the MSW itself rather than contracting it out come to $11,200 for 2014-15 and for the following three years, about $26,000.

Mr. Card said he was aware that the variables in self-hauling are many, including ferry, labor and fuel costs increasing, as well as tipping fees going up. In addition, there might be a reduction in how much MSW Shelter Island produces.

But under his plan to self-haul, Mr. Card notes residents also get a break on town bag prices. In Mr. Card’s estimation, the cost of town bags will remain at 2013 levels through 2019.

With projected savings over five years, combined with projected revenue the Recycling Center produces, Mr. Card figures the town stands to not only save money, but make about $124,000.

The superintendent went before the Town Board recently with a break down of costs of continuing to bid out hauling MSW compared to self-hauling. So far, the board has had little discussion on Mr. Cards’ recommendations and made no commitment either way.

Asked if he had any doubt the best way option for the town is to go into business for itself, Mr. Card said, “No.”