A majority of China Transfer Station Committee members recommended at the Aug. 24 meeting that selectmen increase fees for disposal of demolition debris, and selectmen agreed at their Aug. 30 meeting.
Committee members reviewed the current fee schedule (available on the town website, www.china.govoffice.com) with two goals in mind: to ensure that fees cover disposal costs, including staff labor; and to ensure that China’s fees are not so much lower than other towns’ that China attracts out-of-town waste.
They added that any 2021 increase should cover costs for some years into the future, to avoid the need for annual reviews and updates.
Committee member Ashley Farrington had collected information on fees from 15 other Maine towns for 71 different items. Committee Chairman Larry Sikora had narrowed the list to make a spreadsheet for comparison.
There was still the complication that some towns measured by weight and others by volume.
China’s contract with Palermo requires six months’ notice to Palermo before any fee increase is effective. Town Manager Becky Hapgood calculated that if selectmen approved a change at their Aug. 30 meeting, the increase could take effect April 1, 2022.
After discussion, transfer station committee members voted 6-1, with Sikora opposed, to recommend increasing demolition debris fees from six to 10 cents a pound for China and Palermo residents and from eight to 15 cents a pound for non-residents. The increase, they added, is subject to review after further study of costs and would be effective six months after selectmen’s approval.
At the Aug. 30 China selectmen’s meeting, board members unanimously approved a three-part motion that said:
— Demolition debris disposal fees for China and Palermo residents will increase from six to 10 cents a pound, effective April 1, 2022;
— Demolition debris disposal fees for residents of all other municipalities will increase from eight to 15 cents a pound, effective Jan. 1, 2022; and
— Hapgood is to notify Palermo officials that the price Palermo residents pay for bags for mixed waste will increase April 1, 2022, with the new price to be recommended by the transfer station committee and approved by the selectboard.
Transfer station committee members will also continue to discuss charges for bulky items, like furniture, mattresses and tires, having come to no decision on Aug. 24.
In other business, they unanimously adopted the state-required policy on remote participation, created by the legislature as the pandemic emergency rules end. The policy allows limited exceptions to the rule that public boards and committees must meet in person.
Hapgood reported rumors that the RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags allowing admission to the China transfer station are being lent to people who are not residents of China or Palermo.
The tags, read by a scanner at the station, succeeded the window stickers used until a few years ago. Stickers had license plate numbers on them; if the sticker number did not match the vehicle license plate, attendants could question the driver.
Hapgood and committee members discussed whether a different identification system is needed. They decided first to try to get more information on the extent of the problem and thus the extra burden on China taxpayers.
Transfer station committee members scheduled their next meeting for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 12.
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