Newport officials vote to hike transfer station fees

Posted Dec. 02, 2009, at 11:34 p.m.

NEWPORT, Maine — Selectmen voted Wednesday to double the cost of a sticker that allows use of the transfer station, though Town Manager James Ricker said at the new rate of $2 per year, residents are still paying less than in most towns.

Businesses that use the transfer station for isolated jobs, such as carpenters remodeling a house in Newport, will see the sticker increase from $1 to $10, plus a per-ton cost at the landfill. Even with the tenfold increase, Newport’s fees remain low, Ricker said.

The fee increase, which was approved unanimously by selectmen, is designed to cover more of the cost of administering the transfer station, which is used by about 1,200 Newport sticker-holders per year.

Ricker proposed raising the fee for residents to $5, which triggered opposition from Selectman Doug Franklin.

“We’re already taking the citizens once for this,” said Franklin, referring to the transfer station’s budget, which is support mostly by taxpayers. The transfer station’s budget is proposed to be about $265,000 in 2010 — contingent on approval at the March town meeting — almost $30,000 less than the current year.

In a related vote, selectmen opted to put the proceeds from the sticker sales into a reserve account to support future capital needs at the transfer station, the most pressing of which might be two 25-year-old electric motors that power trash compactors.

The transfer station was one budget item out of dozens that selectmen are in the midst of considering sending to a town meeting vote. Though he said he couldn’t speculate on final budget numbers until the board finishes its work, Ricker told the Bangor Daily News after Wednesday’s meeting that he expects municipal spending to drop this year. The municipal budget’s effect on the town’s tax rate won’t be known, however, until budgets for public schools and county government, and anticipated municipal revenues, become more clear.

In other business, the board:

• Voted unanimously to sell a town-owned piece of property at 86 Elm St. to Cary Seamans of Newport for $5,000.

• Voted unanimously to provide fire services to the town of Etna for a few weeks while that town’s firetruck is repaired.

• Voted unanimously to allow Ricker to negotiate a deal in which Newport would accept Etna’s recyclable material.

• Heard an update from Ricker about the heating system in the public works garage, which might need significant repairs or emergency replacement soon because of a cracked heat exchanger.

The board intends to conclude its budget deliberations by Dec. 16. Its next meeting begins at 3 p.m. Dec. 9.

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