China transfer committee reviews 5-year plan

by Mary Grow

At their Oct. 17 meeting, China transfer station committee members reviewed the five-year plan for the facility and talked about relations with neighbors Palermo and Albion.

The plan includes repairs and replacements and a few minor additions, like a storage area for propane tanks and the previously-discussed lighting for the free for the taking building (both scheduled for 2024).

A main topic was what to do with the elderly skid-steer. Opinion leaned toward replacing it with a tractor, not another skid-steer; committee members listed things a tractor could do, for the transfer station and the public works department, that a skid-steer cannot do.

Director of Public Services Shawn Reed offered to look into prices of different-sized tractors.

Staff intends to do more checking on options and costs for other pieces of equipment that need repair or perhaps replacement. They are also investigating state grants.

Committee members considered investing in another storage building so transfer station staff can keep more recyclables, waiting for fluctuating prices to rise. They made no recommendation.

Palermo committee member Robert Kurek and China town manager Rebecca Hapgood sparred, again, over the new transfer station identification system scheduled to begin Jan. 1, 2024. Vehicles entering the facility will need a sticker on the RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tag with the vehicle license plate on the sticker.

The goal of adding the sticker identified with the vehicle is to eliminate Palermo and China residents’ habit of lending their RFID tags to out-of-towners who do not help fund the transfer station.

Hapgood plans to charge $2 a sticker. Kurek insists the China-Palermo contract says Palermo residents pay no new fees. The contract took effect Jan. 1, 2017, and runs for 17 years, a term Kurek said China officials chose to match their contract with the now-closed Hampden disposal facility.

Under the contract, Palermo pays China an $18,000 yearly fee, and Palermo residents pay for and use special colored trash bags. The bag price has been adjusted, and there is a formula for future adjustments.

Hapgood said China’s town attorney called the contract “one of the worst contracts she’s ever seen.” Committee chairman Paul Lucas called it “ridiculous.”

Hapgood’s suggested alternative to a sticker fee was to have each Palermo vehicle stopped at the entrance and checked to make sure it was entitled to enter. Lucas asked how the cost of the additional labor would compare to the cost of giving Palermo residents free stickers.

The discussion ended inconclusively. Hapgood intends another discussion with China select board members, and she and Kurek exchanged assurances that they’re still friends.

Transfer station manager Thomas Maraggio and Hapgood said fewer transfer station users are being rude to employees, though there are still instances Hapgood investigates.

Maraggio said the new agreement with Albion is working well. Albion residents are now allowed to bring some of the items excluded from the town’s curb-side pick-up to China, for a fee.

Hapgood reported China has hired a new town employee, who will work for both the transfer station and the public works department. The position was in this year’s budget, she said, especially to provide an additional plow driver so staff will be less exhausted by snowstorms.

The next China transfer station committee meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 14.


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