GREENVILLE, Maine — Faced with the high costs of solid waste disposal, residents in the Unorganized Territory of Harford’s Point, Moosehead Junction Township and Big Moose Township on Wednesday pondered their future waste options.
Piscataquis County Commissioner Eric Ward and Piscataquis County Manager Marilyn Tourtelotte organized the meeting in Greenville to provide residents an opportunity to comment on four solid waste options. No decisions were made at the meeting.
“Taxes had gone up this past year, so this is a way for the county to try to reduce the taxes and give the people a voice to speak out,” Tourtelotte said after the meeting.
The county now contracts with Greenville on behalf of the three townships for solid waste disposal and recycling, and those townships pay 30 percent of the operational costs based on valuation. Compared to the costs experienced by other unorganized townships, that percentage is high, according to county officials. The cost for the townships in 2009 was $108,552 and the cost in 2010 is $121,207.
Since the Maine Department of Environmental Protection has ordered Greenville to close its landfill, the three townships also must pay a share of the closing costs. If the county continues to contract with Greenville, they also will pay their share of the development of a new transfer station.
Just what the transfer station costs might be was unavailable to residents Wednesday. That’s because Greenville needs to know whether the county plans to continue to contract with the town before it can develop a budget and the project. On the other hand, residents in the townships don’t want to make a commitment until they know what percentage they would end up paying.
Greenville Selectman Eugene Murray told the approximately 20 residents Wednesday that the town’s project engineer has been requested to develop a cost-sharing formula that can be reviewed every other year, and to design a plan that offers a “one-stop shop” for all waste, including recyclables. He also said the town could choose to go with a pay-per-bag user fee.
“I’m not here to talk you into or out of it,” Murray said.
If the county decides to go elsewhere on behalf of the townships, Greenville would downsize its program, Murray said. “Once you make that cut, the cut will be complete,” he warned.
The alternatives presented by the county officials were significantly lower than the cost to remain with Greenville. If residents hauled their waste and recycling to the Lily Bay Transfer Station on their own, the combined cost per year would be about $13,000, according to the county officials.
A second option, also estimated at $13,000, was if residents hauled the waste to Lily Bay on their own, or if they contracted with a private business for curbside pickup.
A third option would involve the county hiring a private contractor for curbside pickup and recycling, and the contractor hauled the waste to Lily Bay.
Regardless of which option is selected, the townships still will pay a percentage of the landfill’s closing costs, Ward said.
Another meeting will be called when Greenville provides the county with the future costs associated with solid waste disposal.