ELLSWORTH — Decreased revenue will force the transfer station in Ellsworth to cut back on hours beginning Aug. 4, said Public Works Director Lisa Sekulich. The station, which is currently open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and from noon to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, will cut back to noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. It will remain closed Sunday and Monday.
“Basically, we’re losing the morning of Tuesday and Thursday,” said Sekulich.
The changes have been made after the city was unable to make up $26,000 in revenue lost when Acadia Disposal District, a group of towns including Frenchboro, Mount Desert, Tremont and Trenton that previously sent recyclables to Ellsworth, began sending material to the Coastal Resources of Maine plant in Hampden starting in January.
Acadia Disposal District had been paying Ellsworth $26,000 annually to process its recycling, said Sekulich, revenue that subsidized one of the two positions at the transfer station. The city also received 20 percent of the profits from the sale of the district’s recyclables. Without that income, the city was forced to cut one of the positions and reduce hours.
“We looked at every possible option on how to fund it,” said Sekulich, but the city didn’t want to charge more for trash bags, and budgets are tight in the midst of the pandemic. That left cutting hours as the only option. There had been two full-time positions, an attendant and an operator; that will be reduced to one full-time position.
“The reason for the reduction in hours is so that she can process recyclables in the morning without having customers coming in for tickets and be open to the public in the afternoon,” said Sekulich.
The other employee who had been with the transfer station will be transferred to another position within the city that had been vacant, said Sekulich, adding that she didn’t want to lose two excellent employees. The vacancy already existed, she said, “so we didn’t add a position.”
It’s likely things will stay this way for the near future, said Sekulich.
“We’ll take a look at it after six months or so to see if there’s any major concerns, but with money the way it is, it doesn’t look like a second person will be out there any time in the near future,” she said.
The city’s recycling is managed by Maine Resource Recovery Association, which helps the city market its recyclables. Trash is sent to the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. (PERC), a waste-to-energy plant in Orrington.