Preston considers charging residents to use transfer station
Preston ― Beginning this fall, residents may need to buy a $50 sticker to use the transfer station.
The fee is one of three major changes being proposed for the transfer station to combat increasing costs and shrinking disposal options.
In addition to the $50 per residential household sticker fee, Preston plans to install a food waste collection bin at the transfer station and begin collecting a wide range of textiles for recycling, including shoes, backpacks, curtains and bedsheets.
The Board of Selectmen discussed a proposed ordinance that would implement the sticker fee Wednesday and delayed a vote until its Sept. 13 meeting. Each household may receive up to two stickers. Residents currently pay no fee but are required to show proof of residency to use the transfer station.
Operation of the transfer station is now funded through property taxes.
Public Works Manager Jim Corley initially proposed the fee to the Board of Selectmen at its Aug. 9 meeting. Corley said the fee would be applied annually per calendar year. Stickers sold starting late this fall would be good through the 2024 calendar year.
As a member of the Southeastern Connecticut Regional Resources Recovery Authority, Preston sends its household trash to the Lisbon incinerator and recyclables to Casella Waste Systems in Willimantic.
The per ton of garbage fee increased from $59.25 per ton to $61.25 this fiscal year, with no added fee for recycling. But First Selectwoman Sandra Allyn-Gauthier said projected combined costs for trash disposal, bulky waste disposal, hauling and recyclables could jump by 30% or more in the near future.
Corley said Connecticut is in a “waste crisis,” with 40% of the state’s waste now sent out of state after the Hartford incinerator closed.
Preston’s bulky waste, not covered in the regional trash authority agreement, already is shipped out of state, Corely said.
To reduce trash disposal costs, Preston plans to contract with Blue Earth Compost of Hartford to create a voluntary food waste composting program. A collection bin placed at the transfer station would accept food waste not able to be composted at home, such as bones and cooked food. Residents could use dedicated bags or buckets to collect the food waste.
Corley said Preston could use revenue from the state’s new 5-cent surcharge on the small liquor bottles known as “nips”.
The money could be used to pay for the service, as well as compostable bags or buckets for residents and an education campaign.
Corley said food waste makes up about 40% of the municipal solid waste stream, so removing even part of that could reduce town disposal costs substantially.
Corley hopes to launch the food waste composting this fall.
A textile recycling program would be similar to the Goodwill clothing bins that dot the region, Corley said, but the Preston program would accept a broad range of cloth goods, including curtains, towels, bedsheets, shoes and backpacks. Usable items would be recycled and the rest processed for other uses, Corley said.
The town has not selected a contract service for textile recycling, but Corley hopes to start that program shortly after the food waste collection gets started this fall.
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