China transfer station members advise selectboard to buy new loader, soon

by Mary Grow

CHINA, ME — Members of China’s Transfer Station Committee voted unanimously at their April 12 meeting to advise China select board members to buy a new loader as soon as possible, before prices rise any more.

Road Foreman Shawn Reed told committee members the 25-year-old loader his public works department shares with the transfer station is showing its age, but still has trade-in value.

After talking with at least four companies, Reed recommended buying a Volvo loader. The price is $169,700, he said. Transfer Station Manager Ronald Marois said Volvo is offering $29,200 for the old loader.

Reed said he does not know how soon the town could get a loader if select board members approve. One is currently available, he said, but the dealer would not guarantee to hold it if another buyer got in ahead of China.

Reed saw no need to keep the old machine as a spare. If a new one broke down, he said he would expect fast service or a loaner from the seller.

A spare plow truck would be a different matter, he added, after last winter’s experience trying to plow four routes in town with two of China’s four trucks out of service.

Town Manager Rebecca Hapgood said the transfer station’s capital reserve account had $50,250 in it as of June 30, 2021. Another $50,000 was approved in the current year’s budget, and the same amount is requested for 2022-23.

The other major pending project is a building to cover the pre-crusher at the transfer station. Committee chairman Lawrence Sikora and member Mark Davis had talked with metal building suppliers, without getting commitments. Two potential providers had waiting periods of 10 months and 18 months.

Given that delay, committee members have time to continue planning, Sikora concluded. No action was taken.

Another question left for more discussion is whether to recommend changing from the present RFID (radio frequency identification) system for making sure only Palermo and China residents (and a few authorized out-of-towners who pay out-of-town fees) bring waste to the transfer station. Committee and select board members are considering going back to the previous system of stickers on vehicles.

Hapgood asked for a recommendation by September, planning a select board decision in October to be implemented Jan. 1, 2023.

“There’s a lot of things to think about,” she commented.

A problem with the RFID tags is that some holders lend them to out-of-town friends, letting them use the transfer station at China taxpayers’ expense.

Committee members would like additional analysis of the data the RFID system collects (which does not identify individual users, they have emphasized, but does record, for example, how frequently each tag comes in). Sikora had started working with the information; Chris Diesch, one of Palermo’s two committee members, volunteered to take over.

In the latest development concerning the closed Fiberight plant in Hampden, to which China and other Maine towns and cities sent waste for recycling, Hapgood said the Municipal Review Committee (the organization representing the municipalities) asked members for financial backing for the proposed purchase of the facility. She declined on behalf of China.

Transfer station committee members scheduled their next meeting for 9 a.m. Tuesday, May 17.


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