The Recorder – Cities in Franklin County grapple with soaring waste disposal prices
Published: 05/05/2022 17:42:14
Modified: 05/05/2022 17:40:43
With the former Franklin County Solid Waste Management District waste disposal company filing for bankruptcy, cities in Franklin County face price increases as the district grapples with hauling waste by truck to another facility.
Jan Ameen, executive director of the Greenfield-based Franklin County Solid Waste Management District, which handles waste disposal for most communities in Franklin County, said “the vast majority” of towns in the county of Franklin trucked their waste to Community Ecopower’s waste-to-energy incinerator in Agawam at a rate of $81.10 per ton. Community Ecopower sold its incinerator to Connecticut-based USA Hauling & Recycling waste management company F&G in April, opting not to honor previous contracts and raise prices. This, Ameen said, sent the district searching for the most affordable alternative for three weeks, leading Ameen to contract with Republic Services for waste disposal at Springfield’s McNamara Transfer Station. from April 18.
“Whenever we needed another place to go, we would research other facilities, get pricing, and do our due diligence,” Ameen said.
The change in waste disposal services results in an increase of approximately $13 to $14 per ton, bringing the cost per ton of transporting solid waste to $96 when coupled with a rate of naturally expected inflation of 2 dollars.
Ameen noted that transportation, currently handled by Waste Management of Massachusetts, has not increased in price. Each city’s price increase is primarily a result of the tonnage accepted by the storage center.
“Obviously, the more trash you have, the more you ship,” Ameen said.
Some smaller towns, such as Charlemont, haul less than 200 tonnes of waste for disposal each year, while other towns, such as Deerfield, haul around 530 tonnes and are hit harder by soaring prices.
“It’s not budgeted, so it’s not planned,” said Deerfield Selectboard member Carolyn Shores Ness. “We’ll absorb it, but we’re just hit by those disposal costs.”
Deerfield is seeing the largest increase in costs for fiscal 2023, according to data from the Franklin County Solid Waste Management District, with a jump of $6,064. Shores Ness said the town feels “squeezed” and needs to “re-examine all (its) sources of revenue” because Deerfield’s budget for fiscal year 23 was already set at the annual town hall meeting last month. For now, she says, the unforeseen cost will have to be absorbed by general funding from taxpayers’ money.
“We’re about on the edge of what you can charge for bags before you start seeing litter on the side of the road,” Shores Ness added.
Lou Bordeaux, coordinator for the town of Bernardston, a community facing a $3,656 increase for FY23, mentioned stabilization funds and American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding as potential sources that Bernardston could use to absorb the impact.
“We are currently finishing the budget season, so this unforeseen (expense) could come from different sources in the city,” he said.
Ameen pointed to recycling revenue as a reliable potential offset for rising waste disposal costs. In April, she said, cities earned $27 per ton of recycled materials. For this reason, she encourages residents to be more diligent than ever in separating recyclables from garbage.
“If there was ever a time when people looked at their trash…it’s a really good time to start,” she said.
Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or [email protected]