Trash Talk

Dear reader, sorry the format below looks weird but for some reason, every time I try to edit it, it does weird stuff like changing font size and running paragraphs into each other. I am going to quit while I am ahead and only half of it is screwed up.  Dana
The Trash and Recycling Transfer Stations are County owned and operated but since I have heard from a few of Hartford’s citizens on it, I’ll comment on it here. These same thoughts were conveyed by me at the recent Wash. Co. Board of Supervisors’ meeting.
If we only raise the sticker price 25 cents from $1.75 to $2.00 and do nothing else to improve the efficiency/economics of it, then we are just kicking the can down the road and we will be right back where we are now in a couple of years.
25 cent increase in sticker fee equals about $50,000 in revenue. The budget proposal was to shut the stations down in July 2011. To fund the stations for a full year which would include extra money to keep them open from July to December would cost the county about $42,000. The diff from $50,000 to $42,000 is only $8,000. This margin is too slim to rely upon for the places to “break even” in case a piece of equipment breaks down or needs to be replaced.  For example, the stations just bought a used book binding shear for $7,500 to replace one that is broken. This is used to remove the bindings from books so that the paper pages can be recycled. $7,500 even if it is half price the original is a lot of money to cut the binding off of a book. In a test I took an old large text book and ran it thru my 10″ table saw. Worked great.
My saw only cost $300 and is only 10″. A large production saw would cut thru a book like butter. The County owns a large old 16″ Navy Surplus production saw with a 5hp motor. The blade may gum up a little after awhile from glossy paper books but a couple of spare blades could be used while you soak and clean the dirty blades in a bucket of solvent. Some people have told me they thought this would be dangerous, but a wood worker would think that fear to be silly. I mean, the DPW guys use chainsaws, dont they??
We need to charge transfer station “fair market value ” for bags of Trash. This needs to be $2.50 to match Warren Co., plus an extra 50 cents per bag if your license plate says Vermont.
We cannot rely only on the increase in sticker fees. We need to approach this from both sides, Fee increase and efficiency. If a business ran it like the County did, they would soon be out of business. The proof of this is that there is a constant increase in the number of private haulers making their service available to Hartford. If they can make money, why do we loose money?
1) Stickers – do away with them. Have a gate or booth like other municipalities have. Pop open the trunk, count the bags and collect the fee. Then let the car drive in and have 1 person direct traffic. Use a nanny cam if you do not trust the person collecting money. If that person pockets money or allows their buddy past without paying, then fire them and prosecute them. That is what Stewart’s Shops or any other private enterprise would do.
2) The Transfer Stations are not only funded thru stickers but also taxes. Washington County taxes. If a car with VT plates that comes thru the check-in booth, charge them 50 cents extra per trash bag since they do not pay Wash. Co. Taxes. By having our regular price set at $2.50 which is the same as Warren Co municipalities, we will do not have to worry about Warren County border jumpers taking advantage of a bargain.

3) We need to have only 3 stations, not the 5 we currently have. The County is long and skinny so locate 1 in the North, 1 Center and 1 South. We do not need both Whitehall and Granville in the north. We do not need both Jackson and Greenwich in the south. Let the Recycling Advisory Board figure out which one to retain in the North and South.

4) Sell or lease the two left over stations to what ever business wants to come in. This helps our tax base. Do not keep this real estate county owned if it is going to sitt empty and idle. Sell them or lease them.

5) In the past, the Stations reduced days of accepting trash but the workers still showed up for work. The gates are closed to the public but the parking lot is still full of workers cars. The workers are members of the Teamsters Union and I am sure they are guaranteed a 40 hour work week. If we get rid of the extra stations in the North and South, then you have more workers for the remaining 3 stations and we can can be open more days per week. If the stations are open more days during the week, then we might see more revenue.

6) I do not think we need a Solid Waste Czar but we sure need someone in upper management who will be fired if these stations remain a drain on taxes. Maybe then they will listen to the “little guy” with good ideas like the worker from the Kingsbury Station that addressed the Board of Supervisors. Let Solid Waste manager lay awake at night worrying about the bottom line and their job, that is what Private enterprise does.

We need to think outside the box on this and cannot become complacent just because we slapped a 25 cent band aid on the problem wishing it will go away.

In County Gov’t I often hear “we can’t do that”, which when pushed really means “we can do that, but not with ease”. We can do this. If these stations are to remain in the hands of the County, we must do this.

The bottom line is that the Board of Supervisors are responsible for these stations slipping into the position of becoming money loosers. A few years ago they made money. What happended? We can blame all the workers we want but the buck stops at the Board of Supervisors, of which I am one. We are not doing our job if we continue the status quo. If that continues to happen then we need to be fired. In the new year I will request to be put on the County DPW committee to help insure this can is not kicked down the road.     Dana








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