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Braintree councilors approve funding for automated pick-up barrels

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  August 14, 2013 01:27 PM

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Braintree councilors unanimously approved a $905,000 bond request to pay for new trash barrels, affirming the town’s commitment to automated trash pick-up.

The Tuesday night meeting on the new system, which will use a mechanical rather than manual method to haul trash, was the second discussion Braintree councilors had on the topic. A vote had been put off in a committee meeting the previous week.

After looking over the 50-page contract and twice going through a presentation on the benefits of the new program, councilors were finally convinced.

“Everyone will understand the cost-benefit of what this project is, the advantages of recycling, and the emphasis on customer service and service level expectations that our residents have come to expect,” said Councilor Paul “Dan” Clifford, who had been wary of the new system.

The new contract is expected to save $35,000-$50,000 annually in operating costs. The five-year contract is also estimated to be $1.4 million cheaper than the projected cost for maintaining the previous contractor.

Even with the subtraction of $755,000 for the town’s contribution for new barrels ($130,000 was provided from a state grant, and Sunrise contributed $20,000 to the cost) total savings are still projected to be between $760,000 and $830,000.

For consumers, the savings mean avoiding a $15 trash fee increase every year for the next five years.

“Failure to implement a plan like this would put us on a course of not being able to achieve a level of savings that we think we can,” said Mayor Joseph Sullivan. “…It will be a positive one for each and every household and environmentally…reduce the overall tonnage, increase our recycling, and save money for the community.”

The goal is to start the automated pick up system on Sept. 30, but no later than Oct. 15.

Though town officials said they planned to undertake a more extensive PR campaign throughout September, several questions on the new system were hashed out Tuesday night.

In addition to a 64-gallon barrel for trash and a 64-gallon barrel for recycling, households would be permitted to dispose of two bulky items a week – such as bikes, furniture, mattresses, and small amounts of construction debris.

Two “white goods” – appliances such as stoves, fridges, freezers, and washer machines – would be accepted per household per month.

Six additional bags of trash per house will be accepted on Christmas week and the week after, and Christmas trees will be picked up the first two weeks in January.

Yard waste will be picked up seven days a week.

“Benefits will exceed expectations, I hope, and put us on a positive path of right steps,” Sullivan said.

Though some councilors were concerned of excess trash, Recycling Coordinator Jeff Kunz said families could invest in a second 64-gallon container for $100, or take additional trash to the transfer station.

Yet the hope is that increased recycling will eliminate most of the existing trash.

“Forty-five to 50 percent [of our trash] can be recycled. If you compost and do all the things, you can actually recycle 70 percent of your trash. We’re currently between 25-30 percent. We’re projecting a 15 percent increase,” Kunz said.

Carts will have to be placed in a specific area for pick up, though officials said they would work with the town until it became habit.

Several residents who came out to the meeting spoke of concerns, but most walked away with a positive outlook.

“I think the program the mayor is presenting is much better” than the current system, said Kevin Houchin, a Summer Street resident.

Councilors supported the new program as well, though many remained concerned about the existing trash fee.

“I’m also an advocate to see our trash fee gets reduced,” said Councilor Tom Bowes. “I’m confident the more we recycle, the more we will bring the cost down on the trash fee.”

Councilor Leland Dingee also said he had some existing questions that could perhaps be answered in a public forum to allay future fears. Meanwhile, Councilor John Mullaney had confidence in the process.

“We have a mayor that won’t put a program in force and walk away from it,” Mullaney said.

To read the entire trash contract, view page 20 of this document.

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