OGUNQUIT (AP) – Concern about Regional Waste Systems’ high disposal fees and mounting debt has led Ogunquit to consider withdrawing from the trash-to-energy plant.

RWS officials are gathering information on what it would cost member towns to leave the 15-year-old incinerator that is owned by 21 southern Maine communities.

“This is not a step that anyone’s going to take lightly,” Ogunquit Selectmen Chairman Jon Speers said. “We’re a small player in RWS and we’re exploring our options. We’re just trying to figure out what our next move should be.”

In a letter to RWS, Ogunquit asked for a current tally of the plant’s long-term debt, which is more than $100 million, including principal and interest, and how much it would cost Ogunquit to buy out of RWS.

RWS refinanced some of its debt in May to cover a $2.5 million shortfall in the operating budget. Debt service is nearly half of the plant’s $23.5 million budget this year. Both are of concern to town officials.

Ogunquit’s concerns multiplied when the letter, drafted July 16, went unanswered by RWS until Friday.

RWS distributed Ogunquit’s letter to some board members but not others, reinforcing the perception of some that an inner circle of RWS officials is privy to certain information that is withheld from others.

Portland Mayor James Cloutier, newly elected chairman of the RWS board of directors, said Ogunquit will get the information it seeks. He said he has asked RWS staff to prepare an outline of several financial scenarios “to show Ogunquit why it’s in their financial best interest to stay involved in RWS.”

In its letter, Ogunquit said it “has no desire to make any long-term commitments to pay two times the going market rate for disposal of trash as is presently the case.”

Ogunquit, which has a 4 percent stake in the trash-to-energy plant, has no representative on the RWS board that controls the consortium. Its representative lives in Lyman.



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