GREENVILLE, Maine — Selectmen were taken aback Wednesday when a Piscataquis County official faulted the formula used by the town to calculate solid waste disposal costs for the surrounding Unorganized Territory and announced that the county was looking at alternatives.
“The current rates that are paid by the county to Greenville for solid waste are well above the cost of any other UT in Piscataquis County,” Marilyn Tourtelotte, county manager, said Tuesday during a public hearing.
The hearing was scheduled to get comments from residents and users about the future operation of solid waste disposal in Greenville. The town has been ordered to close its landfill and town officials wanted residents to comment on what they like and dislike about the present system as they move forward on a transfer station. Only a handful of people attended the hearing.
Surprised at Tourtelotte’s comments, Selectman Alan McBrierty asked why the county decided to dispute the formula now after the county has had years of participation in Greenville’s landfill and the town now was closing it.
“As you may be aware, the Unorganized Territory budget is under fire right now,” Tourtelotte told selectmen. The budget took about a 30 percent hike mainly because of solid waste and winter road costs, she said.
Tourtelotte said the county signed an “open-ended” contract with Greenville in 1986 that allowed Harford’s Point, Big Moose and Moosehead Junction townships to use the Greenville landfill. The towns of Shirley and Beaver Cove also joined the solid waste operation.
As per the contract, Greenville would pay 59 percent of the solid waste disposal costs, followed by the county at 30 percent, Shirley at 6.3 percent and Beaver Cove at 4.7 percent.
Tourtelotte said each of the three townships now pay Greenville about $40,500 a year for solid waste disposal. In comparison, the solid waste costs for other townships in the county range from $7,800 to $22,500, she said.
“For this reason and in an attempt to reduce county spending, the county will be looking into alternative ways to serve the three UT township in disposing of their solid waste at a lower cost,” Tourtelotte said. Those alternatives could be for UT residents to use the solid waste facilities in Lily Bay or elsewhere, she said.
The former state administrator of the Unorganized Territory suggested to county officials that the most equitable calculation for solid waste costs would be based on population per town and township, Tourtelotte told selectmen.
Tourtelotte said the county commissioners understand the county has a responsibility to pay a portion of the closing costs of Greenville’s landfill, but want the costs calculated in a more equitable way. She asked and was granted a seat for the county on the Transfer Station Development Committee, which will help plan the new transfer station.
Selectmen plan to discuss the county’s concerns as they proceed with the solid waste changes.