The Tri-Town Transfer Committee (representatives from Bethel, Newry and Hanover) plan to meet at 4:30 p.m. on January 20 to further discuss construction debris. Bethel Citizen photo by Samuel Wheeler

BETHEL — At their January 4 meeting, selectmen discussed construction debris and food waste at the transfer station. The primary focus of the boards conversation was on possibly charging people for disposing of construction debris moving forward. Talk on charging for construction waste has been ongoing for years.

Currently, Bethel does not charge people for construction debris, being one of the few towns statewide not to do so. The town is projected to spend $109, 399.32 for construction debris for this fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2021. The projected cost is more than $30,000 higher than what was spent on debris in FY 2020, the $109,399.32 also exceeds what the town has budgeted for debris this year, which is $71,000 (same amount budgeted since 2019). If over budget, the additional money will have to be taken out of the general fund, according to Town Manager Loretta Powers.

Selectman Pete Southam wondered why there was such a spike in the projected cost. Selectman Neil Scanlon said the drastic increase in debris is most likely from all the construction happening in the area.

Bethel currently shares the cost of debris at the transfer station along with Hanover and Newry. Bethel is responsible for 77 percent of the debris cost, while Newry is at 13 percent and Hanover 10 percent. There is an interlocal agreement between the three towns regarding debris.

Cole wondered if 77 percent was an accurate number for construction waste from Bethel residents.

“It’s been hard trying to figure that out,” Powers said of the 77 percent. “Bethel has more building permits than the other to towns.”

Powers added that Hanover’s number is fairly accurate but that Newry and Bethel may be closer in debris contribution than indicated in the agreement.

“I’m in favor of charging for debris. I think it would also nudge many contractors to get dumpsters because it would save them tons of time,” Selectman Pete Southam said. “Construction debris should be paid for by the person who is throwing it away.”

Swain agreed with Southam, saying taxpayers should not be responsible for construction waste. Swain said the same of food waste, also.

“Taxpayers should not be paying for the trash that is in a dumpster at a restaurant,” Swain said.

Southam called food waste a separate issue and said it is cheaper for the town to have someone take away the food waste instead of paying for it as part of regular waste. Southam did not specify how much cheaper getting rid of food waste is for the town. Mason resident Dean Richmond is currently in charge of removing food waste from many businesses in the Bethel area.

Despite not having to handle food waste, Swain still thought restaurants should pay for the remainder of trash in their dumpster that is not food related.

“The restaurants pay for the rental of the dumpster. They do not pay for the weight of the trash that is in the dumpster. That needs to change,” Swain said.

Bethel currently pays the hauling and tipping fees for restaurant waste, with the business being responsible for only paying rental fees for the dumpster.

“Restaurants, under our current ordinance, could just truck their waste over to the transfer station and throw it away and we’d have to pay for it. It would just take them more time and energy,”Southam said. “In some ways it’s more convenient because we don’t have to run as many dumpsters at the transfer station.”

Selectman plan to revisit talk on debris and waste at their February 1 meeting.

 

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