County supervisors examine transfer stations’ role-again

B y Bill Toscano

 

A year after deciding to keep its transfer stations open with a slight increase in fees, Washington County is again looking at ways to eliminate the expenditure going into the five stations.

“We’ve had a $400,000 loss already, and we could lose another $600,000,” said Matt Hicks, Granville’s town supervisor and part of the three-person subcommittee that has recommended options for dealing with the stations, one of which is on Route 22 in Granville and another which is in Whitehall.

Hicks is on a public works subcommittee with Hebron’s Brian Campbell and Kingsbury’s Jim Lindsay, and Hicks said the three came up with four options for the county to consider prior to preparing next year’s budget.

“We could keep the status quo, get rid of them, lease them to private hauling companies or have the DPW and the county run them, but radically change the way they are operated,” Hicks said.

The issue with keeping things as they are, he said, is that the county will continue to lose money. The second option would be to put a “request for proposals (RFP),” to simply sell the five of them to the highest bidder. In that case, John Tanner, Granville’s highway supervisor, said the town should look at the facility for use as a winter salt barn.

Hicks said there has been some interest from local waste collection companies in running the facilities. He added that if the county does keep them, there would have to be “significant changes,” most likely including the cost per bag.

“We have lost market share. We just do not have as many people using them,” he said, noting that people who do not use the transfer stations are subsidizing those who do, through taxes.

“The vast majority of people are paying for a service for the vast minority,” he said. “We’re going forward, but I don’t know what’s going to happen.  I do know that if we sold them right now for $1 apiece, we’d be like $625,000 ahead.”

 

Supervisors agree

Whitehall Supervisor George Armstrong has started using a commercial trash service himself.

“We need to do something, and I would be in favor of privatizing the transfer stations,” he said. “We’re losing more and more people because they are doing like I did and getting someone to come in and pick up trash at the house.

“I would be afraid that someone might buy the station and close it. That might be a good business decision for a trash company. It would eliminate some of the competition.”

Hartford Supervisor Dana Haff is all for eliminating the stations.

“I feel that government has no business providing a tax funded service if Private Enterprise can do it. Private paid wages are not derived from our tax payments like government jobs are,” he said. “These properties are not currently on the tax rolls because they are owned by the government.

“If the service, with a ‘pay as you throw’ system can be provided by private, whether it be lease or sale, then there is no benefit to keep these stations as government run. This is especially true since the county seems to be unable to run them without incurring a loss which affects our tax rates.”

There are five stations in the county, including the two in the northern part of the county in Granville and Whitehall. The southern part of the county is served by Greenwich and White Creek, and the fifth is in the eastern part of the county in Kingsbury.

People who use the stations pay $2.50 for a sticker that allows them to throw away one large plastic bag of trash. Other services, such as recycling, are free. Many people, however, choose to have commercial hauling companies pick up their trash and recycling instead. Those companies average between $18 and $30 per month depending on location.

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