NORWAY – The Norway-Paris Solid Waste Committee has come under scrutiny for its decision to more than triple dumping fees for some local businesses.

The committee recently voted to increase fees for commercial haulers from $7 an item to $25 for items that did not come originally from Norway or Paris. The problem, says Chris Shorey, of Main Street Furniture and Appliances, and others is determining whether the waste is locally produced.

“We sell a couch. We take theirs in return. We feel it is ours to dispose of or give away,” said Shorey of his business at 313 Main St.

Shorey said Norway-Paris Solid Waste has reclassified his business as a commercial hauler, which makes it liable for the higher fees. Additionally, Shorey says the facility operators claim Main Street Furniture and Appliance adds another $20,000 to its budget because of what it dumps.

“They’re grouping us in a class that are commercial haulers,” Shorey said Friday. “I’m not in the business of hauling trash.”

“No one for 30 years was questioned,” said Shorey about the longtime relationship the business has had with the facility.

Bruce Hanson, treasurer of the Norway-Solid Waste, told selectmen Thursday night that the committee is unable to provide budget numbers to justify the increase at this time because they are still being reviewed.

The solid waste facility operators asked for a reduction of more than $5,000 to each town in their fiscal 2009 budget last spring, saying the tipping fees were up, legal fees were down and metal recycling revenues had increased, among other items.

Shorey said he is looking forward to an analysis of the budget numbers, including the revenue generated.

Shorey said the amount of revenue his business alone generates for the solid waste facility in items such as metals they can sell probably makes a net profit.

“I can’t imagine our business is costing them that much,” he said. “The last thing we want is to be a burden on the taxpayer. We contend we are a net profit for Norway-Paris Solid Waste.”

Selectman Russ Newcomb asked Hanson how the committee determines what is locally produced waste and what is not. He gave an example of getting a couch from his grandmother in Bethel and the next day he has to dispose of it in Norway because the dog got sick on it.

When asked if the solid waste facility would consider it Norway waste, Hanson said, “That’s a good question. The best I could say was, what was your intention.”

Shorey said that determination is a problem.

Shorey said his business has expanded its customer base significantly in the past 18 months since it revamped to focus on furniture sales.

Because of that, more and more customers are coming into downtown Norway from a wider area, which is good for both Main Street Furniture and Appliance and the local business district in general, Shorey said.

When a couch is sold, he said as an example, the business will take the customer’s old couch as part of the transaction, and depending on the condition of the piece of furniture, they may donate it or trash it. It is considered the businesses once they take possession of it regardless of where they get it, he said.

“I think this is a tough issue. I understand the difficulty,” Town Manager David Holt said. “Let’s try to put hard feelings aside and try to work this through.”

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