GOULDSBORO — Gouldsboro residents will require a car windshield sticker instead of the town pass to dispose of their household debris at the transfer station starting next April. Also, disposal fees for residential and commercial debris may rise too because of the escalating volume of waste and disposal costs at the Walter Road facility.
At their July 22 meeting, selectmen voted 5-0 to reinstate the windshield sticker system and pledged to review the town’s current $15 sticker price and other waste disposal fees. The vote followed the Solid Waste Committee’s recommendation, that same night, to return to stickers and raise rates.
In addition, at the committee’s recommendation, selectmen agreed to recommend to the Budget Committee next year that $20,000 be set aside annually for three years to purchase and install drive-on scales to weigh exactly how much metal, cardboard, wood and other material is being disposed of per vehicle.
Resulting from a July 20 session with selectmen, the committee’s recommendations were based on committee member Jerry Kron and his wife Jane’s “2020 Transfer Station Deficit Study.” Analyzing the transfer station’s records, and comparing them to their 2018 data, the Krons found the number and frequency of disposals by the current 559 transfer station pass holders differ dramatically.
In 2020, a total of 197 households used their passes only once compared to 22 pass holders who made 271 disposals.
“In one instance (2018), an individual used it over and over — 13 times,” Jerry Kron told the board. “In 2020, an individual used it 30 times.”
The move to the former windshield system, which would eliminate the practice of passes being used by multiple parties, comes at a time as the number of disposals tripled between 2018 and 2020. During that period, the total number of roll-off containers removed annually rose from 66 to 83. Since 2016, the expense also shot up to remove, replace and transport the full roll-off containers to DM & J Waste in Ellsworth. DM & J Waste’s per-ton disposal price, previously including transport, has increased from $75 to $85 per ton since 2016. The company also now charges $220 for the roundtrip transport.
From a taxpayer’s standpoint, the disparity between different households’ usage, creates inequity in sharing Gouldsboro’s transfer station costs that totaled $69,000 in 2020. Of the $69,000, $12,000 accounts for salaries.
“The deficit continues year after year and worsens each year it is left unattended…,” the Krons concluded in their 2020 study. “…The unfairness and mounting taxpayer deficit is aggravated by each multiple disposal/sticker.”
Both selectmen and Solid Waste Committee members agreed the current system is unfair to those year-round and seasonal residents who seldom use the Walter Road facility. They see the return to windshield stickers as an interim means to better control usage and reduce the number and frequency of disposals. They do plan to review the transfer’s station’s fee schedule in light of rising disposal and transport costs.
Solid Waste Committee member Becky O’Keefe cautioned the board about increasing the current $15 sticker price. She expressed concern any rise might cause some people bypass the transfer station and dispose of debris in the woods.
“I think if you go too high, you are going to get the beside-the road [dumping],” the veteran committee member warned at the July 20 meeting.
Gouldsboro Infrastructure Superintendent Jim McLean thought reverting to windshield stickers would address the problem. “I think you will find it [usage] will go down,” he said.