February 28 2018

Cost of Trash and Recycling Pickup Set to Rise Sharply for Town

By: Rich Hosford

Trash and recycling pickup is poised to start costing the town more money and the practice of providing free recycling for “white goods” may end.


This came out as part of the discussion on the proposed FY19 budget for the Department of Public Works that was held at Monday night’s Board of Selectmen meeting. DPW Director John Sanchez said that the “biggest driver” behind the department’s budget increase is trash and recycling.


The reason, he said, is that the biggest importer of recyclable items is changing its policies while the wages for local employees are increasing.


“Our biggest cost in this area is recycling,” he said. “China has been putting up new restrictions on how recycling is delivered to them and it is raising costs. Also, the prevailing wages to contract employees, which are set by the state, have gone up since the out last contract. Nobody wants to carry the number within their budget so when we went out for a proposals we saw that the contract is going to go up and so dramatically.”


That raise also looks more dramatic because since 2009 when a new five-year contract started that was joined by area communities as a way to save money the price of trash and recycling has been low. In 2008 the town paid $1,732,195 which dropped to 1,714,741 in 2009 and to $1,627,743 in 2010. In 2011, when the company the town does business with was changed, the cost was $1,564,447, more than $150,000 less than at its peak. And while other years since have seen prices go up and down a little bit the overall cost since 2009 has been relatively low.


However, based on contract negotiations the town has undertaken ahead of the expiration of the current contract in June, the estimated cost for Fiscal Year 2019 is $1,969,900.


Sanchez told the board that one way to maintain the cost of trash and recycling pickup is to end the practice of free removal of “white items.” This is a term for electronics such as televisions, monitors, refrigerators and similar items. In most towns residents must pay to have these items taken off their hands and it seems likely Burlington will join their ranks in the near future. The service of providing free pick-up of these items, Sanchez said, is roughly $100,000 annually.  


“In order to maintain this cost for the first time Burlington will have to charge residents to get rid of televisions, monitors, refrigerators and the like,” Sanchez said.


The board will likely take up the measure in an upcoming meeting though even if passed the it will not go into effect immediately.

“That will come at another meeting and it’s also not going to take place until July 1,” Town Administrator John Petrin said. “We just wanted you to know that this budget is predicated on charges for white goods so if you don’t approve that then at a later time we’ll have to adjust.”


Other aspects of trash and recycling pickup, like it not having a fee for regular waste and a one-day-per-week pickup for the entire town will not be affected, Sanchez said.


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