Solid waste budget unchanged for ninth straight year

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Rumford’s revenue from recycling increased more than $32,000 — to $107,983 — in 2017, despite a continued drop in the percentage of people in the region who recycle. (Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times)

Eric Schmersal, manager at the Northern Oxford Regional Solid Waste transfer station in Mexico. (Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times)

RUMFORD — The Northern Oxford Regional Solid Waste board has given unanimous approval to keeping the 2018 solid waste budget the same for 2018.

The board approved a $1.035 million budget Dec. 19, which is actually up $28,429, or 2.82 percent. The increase, however, will be covered by dipping into the fund balance, as has been done in the past to keep the budget flat.

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Board administrator John Madigan said the assessments to the six member towns — Rumford, Mexico, Dixfield, Peru, Roxbury and Byron — will remain unchanged, as they have for the past nine years.

Included in that fund balance are revenues from recyling, which saw an increase of more than $32,000 — to $107,983. The volume of recycling remained about the same at 907 tons, but the tonnage price increased this year for items such as metal and newspaper.

Eric Schmersal, manager at the transfer station, noted that those figures do not include the month of December, “so the revenue figures could be much higher.”

Given the changing prices of recyclables, board member Jim Thibodeau asked, “Any chance we could store more materials and wait for the prices to increase?”

Schmersal said that could be done on a limited basis, but the problem would be available space to store recyclables for a long period of time.

Despite the recycling revenue increase, the percentage of residents who are recycling continues to decline.

Board chair Patty Duguay said this year’s recycling percentage is only 10 percent, a drastic drop from several years ago.

“We used to recycle over 32 percent,” Duguay said.

Madigan added that the tipping fee is $53.60 per ton to have solid waste trucked to Waste Management in Norridgewock. Every ton that can be recycled instead of landfilled represents meaningful sdavings to the six communities.

Board member Greg Buccina said he discussed recycling with Meroby Elementary School principal Kim Fuller, who has expressed interest in having students learn to recycle and, thus, reduce the amount of garbage coming out of the school.

Duguay said she would follow up with Fuller and work to get other schookls more involved in recycling and reducing the volume of trash. She said if students are made aware of the importance of these tasks, perhaps they will get their parents involved.

Schmersal told the board there is a transmission cooler leak on the 2009 front-end loader. He asked if the board wished to replace the radiator (estimated at $2,000) or have Archie’s Inc. of Mexico make the repairs — for no more than $500.

The board opted for the repair option. Schmersal said there is about $12,000 budgeted for equipment repair.

There was also discussion on reimbursing employees at the transfer station for their work clothes. The board agreed to consider a clothing allowance in the future.

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