Update 3:13 p.m.:
Here is the text of the presentation to the Darien Board of Selectmen by Allison Stolar of the Transfer Station Advisory Committee about the panel's proposals on fees, new recycling and other changes at the Darien Transfer Station, which is being renamed the Darien Recycling and Refuse Center:
(Slides refer to pages of the report, also attached to this article.)
I’m Allison Stolar, RTM District 5, Public Works & Operation Subcommittee Chair of the Transfer Station Advisory Committee
I appreciate the opportunity to be here tonight. I am here to present our budget and fee structure recommendations for the Darien Recycling Center.
The TSAC has complied 5 months of research from the Darien Department of Public Works, industry experts, and neighboring towns’ transfer stations. We collected and complied information on operations, budgets, fee structures, marketing and education.
From the data we learned that each town has a different business structure and budget, but ultimately the same goal. To reduce the tonnage of MSW and increase the tonnage of SSR for cost savings and environmental reasons. Some towns have already implemented SSR –Stamford, Greenwich, Westport & Fairfield and some have not- Wilton, Ridgefield, Norwalk, & Weston.
We compared our current operations and fee structure to other neighboring towns and can state that we are confident with our recommendations and have a clear vision of the work that still needs to be accomplished.
Impact of Single Stream Slide # 2
This chart shows the tonnage growth of single stream is over 40% growing from 100 tons per month to 142 tons per month. Our current revenue from SSR is $24,570. If we assume a 10% increase of SSR that will generate another $2,457 and a 40% increase would be an additional $9,828. An impact of $36,855. This positive mix shift is predicated on the cooperation of the commercial haulers and the continuous education of the residents using the facility to maximize the amount of the waste stream that will be recycled instead of being thrown out as trash.
Our MSW tonnage is declining and our SSR is increasing. On Feb 1st the 2nd compactor was converted to single stream and commercial haulers are beginning to bring in SSR to the Darien Recycling Center. The 2nd compactor has made it easier and more efficient to tip loads, therefore encouraging haulers to bring SSR to the Darien Recycling Center. It is free to bring SSR to the Darien Recycling Center for everyone.
Also, every load is being inspected by City Carting and this has increased our compliance rate. This has required haulers to communicate with their customers about the proper way to prepare their single stream recycling and with continuous education our SSR tonnage will increase, saving us tax dollars.
Residential Permit Analysis/Facts Slide # 3
The Town implemented tipping fees and residential permit fees in the early1990's. That all changed when the CRRA contract with Wheelabrator expired and we inherited our transfer station. Our current permit fees have not been increased since 2007.
Currently we have 6,698 households in Darien according to the 2010 Census.
3,361 households have a residential permit-Only 50% of total households.
Residents pay for the first permit and receive additional permits at no charge
Households may have up to 6 permits- 97% of household have up to 3 permits
Residents (permit holders) do not pay any additional fee to dump brush, leaves, grass, logs, or combustible mixed loads.
Residential Permit Recommendations Slide # 4
The TSAC considered numerous structures and fee options including pay as you throw, putting the fee in the mill rate, and charging for every residential permit. Our committee also considered various rates for every permit. These options were highly debated and thoughtfully decided by our committee. Our recommendation does not change the basic fee structure and is a modest increase.
As shown in the chart our committee is suggesting that we raise the residential permit fee from $34 - $40 for residents with hauler and from $110 - $120 for residents without hauler. This is roughly a 2% annual increase for over 7 years.
Households should be limited 3 permits per year. The above fee covers the first
2 permits and the 3rd permit should be ½ price.
Seniors and Abatement permits should remain unchanged. Both groups are very small users of the facility and thus have a low impact on the overall budget.
Our current residential permit fee does not cover all of our expenses, however; the Recycling Center has always been seen as a public service and not a revenue generating facility. The TSAC took this into consideration when making our recommendations.
Also, several members of the TSAC expressed environmental concerns for not raising the residential permit fee significantly. One of our goals is to increase the usage of the Darien Recycling Center and a few members felt that if we raised our fees too high, it would turn residents off from using the Darien Recycling Center.
Our residential permit fees have not been increased in 7 years while the CPI has increased approximately 11% during that period and our expenses continue to increase. The transfer station subsidy is estimated to be $365,856 for 2013.
The rational for limiting the number of household permits was to reduce abuse of permits being transferred to non-residents or households that do not pay the fee and 3 permits per household covers 97% of the users. It also represents a market rate similar to other towns. Only 50% of Darien household utilizes the Darien Recycling Center.
We estimated that this permit increase will have a $47,323 positive impact on the budget. However, we did not take into account any reduction in the number of permits sold-which may or may not occur.
Commercial Permit Recommendations Slide # 5 & 6
Commercial permit fees should remain unchanged, except we would like to eliminate the portion of the Public Works ordinance that states the landscaper permit is pro-rated after July 1. The landscaper permit fee is $150 and we recommend the pro-rated $75 permit be eliminated.
The rational behind this decision was not to increase revenue, but rather a cost savings for the Recycling Center. Landscapers who purchase these pro-rated permits are mainly bringing in grass and leaves from July 1st thru November and our cost to haul out these items are expensive. Our cost to compost leaves on site is expensive and our frequency of trips to dispose of grass is costly.
The TSAC felt that the Public Works Committee, RTM should take a look at the Public Works ordinance.
Commercial Tipping Fee Recommendations Slide # 7
For 2012 we have a total of 264 landscapers. 250 landscapers pay the $150/rate and $14 pay the pro-rated fee of $75.
The TSAC recommends that we raise the landscaping tipping fees that are well below market rate to the low end of the market at this time since the increase is pretty substantial. Our recommendations are:
a. Brush currently $85/ton and our largest stream – no change
b. Leaves currently $55/ton raise to $70/ton -equal to City Carting’s fee
c. Wood chips currently $40/ton raised to $70/ton
d. Grass clippings currently $55/ton raised to $85/ton
The rational behind this decision was to prevent arbitrage from nearby towns and set our rates closer to the rates of neighboring towns. Also, Darien has four different rates, which makes operations complicated and neighboring towns have a single rate.
Note that we have not evaluated the impact of our recommended price increases on incoming landscaping material, but we have identified that our landscaping tipping fees are well below the fees charged by neighboring towns.
We estimated that the additional gross revenue would be $58,604 from increasing landscaping tipping fees. Though, once again we are assuming that the volumes of the streams will stay the same and that may or may not be true.
However, it should be noted that the Darien Recycling Center has required an operating subsidy through the mill rate in each of the past 10 years. The operating costs have increased since 2006. The unadjusted operating subsidy was $275,508 for 2012. A subsidy of $365,856 is budgeted for FY 2013.
The total of our recommendations calculates to be $130,497, however; since the number of permits and the amount of material being tipped may decrease, thus resulting in less revenue, using $100,000 as a target revenue increase allows for some potential reduction in usage.
Recommendations Operational Improvements & New Services Slide # 8
We are currently working with Sophie Circillo to develop new signage for the Recycling Center. City Carting will pay for the new signage as part of our current contract.
We switched the 2nd compactor to process single stream recycling and this has had a positive impact for commercial haulers in one months time.
We are exploring avenues to allow recycling of textiles. We are looking to partner with a company called Usagain. Usagain has been in textile recycling since 1999 and currently operates 10,000 recycling bins in 14 States.
– Person‐to‐Person contracts withUSAgain (www.usagain.com)
– Anticipate revenue ~$100/ton
– Anticipate reduction of MSW up to 5% when fully implemented
– Average 3 years to realize maximum savings
The revenue potential combined with savings on MSW makes this a perfect program to implement at the Darien Recycling Center.
Recycling Fluorescent Lights & Ballasts
We would also like to start fluorescent bulb collection under the state negotiated contract with Northeast Lamp Recyclers for collection at the Darien Recycling Center.
This would cost the town less than $3,000 and it may be considered a “Source Responsible” program in the near future by DEEP.
I would be happy to answer any questions at this time.
The cost of dump stickers would go up a bit if town officials approve the recommendations of the Board of Selectmen's Transfer Station Advisory Committee, presented Monday night to the selectmen.
For residents who don't have a trash hauler, the fee would go up from the present $110 per year to $120. For those with a hauler, the fee would rise from $34 to $40. Seniors would still pay only $55 for a permit and there would be no change for those who get an abatement of the fee.
Currently, households are allowed up to six permits with no extra charge after the first permit. The committee recommends allowing only three permits per household, with no fee for the second permit but a half-price fee on the third.
The committee also recommended that Darien start recycling textiles (clothing that can no longer be used) and fluorescent lights.
One problem with fluorescent lights is that they contain a bit of mercury, a hazardous waste. Allison Stolar, a member of the Representative Town Meeting and a member of the Transfer Station Advisory Committee who presented the report to selectmen, said she would never store old fluorescent bulbs in her home for that reason. She has children and wouldn't want them to be hurt from mercury contamination, she said.
For Darien, the cost of disposing of fluorescent lights would be roughly $2,500 Stolar said. Bob Steeger, town director of public works, said Darien is currently not in compliance with a state law mandating that towns collect and recycle fluorescent lights.
The committee is also exploring ways to allow recycling of textiles. The town could get $100 a ton by selling the textiles, and the amount of trash that the town pays to have hauled away from the transfer station could be reduced by 5 percent after textiles are diverted into recycling, according to the committee's report. It would take about three years to maximize the town's savings, the report said.
The committee also is changing the name of the transfer station to "Darien Recycling Center" in its publicity materials, although the sign at the town dump says "Darien Recycling and Refuse Center," Stolar said.