NORTH ADAMS — Soon, it may be more expensive to get rid of some bulky items at the city’s transfer station.
The council took an initial vote Tuesday night to approve fee changes that include more than doubling the price to get rid of mattresses and other furniture and increasing fees for items like tires. A second vote is required to finalize the ordinance.
The increase has been proposed to help offset losses, which total about $10,000 a month, Public Services Commission Timothy Lescarbeau said at a recent Public Service Committee meeting.
“The overall operation of the transfer station is quite frankly a mess,” Mayor Jennifer Macksey said at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
“We’ve got great, great workers up there, but they need tools. They need oversight, and we need to be controlling our expenses,” she said. “We shouldn’t be operating the department at a loss.”
In the city’s contract with Casella Waste Systems, if its trailers weigh less than the minimum of 24 and a half tons, the city still has to pay that minimum fee, Lescarbeau said at the Public Services Commission last month.
“So what we’re paying for is air,” he said. Loads are not being compacted, and a grapple tool will help, he said. But because of supply chain issues, the transfer station won’t get the tool until August, Councilor Marie Harpin said Tuesday. The bulky items are harder to pack down, and so the station is losing money on them, she said.
If finalized, prices for mattress and furniture like couches would go from $15 to $35, while the price for car tires would go from $4 to $8.
Hiking up prices on bulky items is not the full solution. “This is going to fix some of the problem, but we also have to address the rates and and other issues as well,” Harpin said.
Macksey said she plans to address the price per ton fee — the price for trash weighed on the transfer station’s scale — during the upcoming city budget process.
Though the station is currently losing money, “we also have to understand there’s a lot of things in the city that operate at a loss that part of our taxes pay for,” Councilor Keith Bona said.
“I think we’ve talked about these options over the years, and I don’t want to see the transfer station close or go private,” he said. “That’s just my opinion.”
Macksey said she agreed.