GUILFORD, Maine — While the contract between USA Energy Group and the Maine Municipal Review Committee — the nonprofit organization that runs the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. — doesn’t expire until 2018, some towns are already concerned about the future of the operation.
Last week, the towns of Guilford and Dexter signed a resolution to urge MRC to “continue its mission … by providing a regional solid waste solution beyond 2018 for the benefit of the charter municipalities.”
The reason for the action is USA Energy Group’s endorsement of a bill before the Legislature that could increase tipping fees by $1.5 million per year over the next four years, according to Guilford Town Manager Tom Goulette.
“The problem is that USA Energy Group is a for-profit company and MRC is a nonprofit organization. In Guilford’s case, this would increase our cost to $67 a ton by 2018,” Goulette said. The town currently pays $45 per ton.
According to the MRC website, the nonprofit entity consisting of 187 municipalities controls about 23 percent of the partnership. In 2012, PERC received more than 310,000 tons of solid waste, recovered more than 8,900 tons of ferrous material and generated more than 166,000 megawatts of electricity.
Another problem is that demolition debris is not included in the new agreement, Goulette said.
“If your town has a lot of new construction going on, this could be costly,” he said. “I’m glad MRC is looking at other options. We’re behind them.”
More meetings are scheduled in the future to iron out the details of any new contract, so Goulette said that everything related to the operation of PERC “is a work in progress. We just have to make sure we’re taking care of the taxpayers.”
In addition to signing the resolution at last week’s meeting, the Guilford Board of Selectmen handled several routine matters.
After holding an executive session on the matter, the board voted to increase wages by 2.5 percent for all full-time personnel and constables and 3 percent for the town manager. The board noted that Goulette did not take the last raise when offered.
They agreed to provide fire and emergency medical services to Parkman and Abbot at the same rate as the past several years, and they renewed the town’s septic waste disposal contract with Patterson Brothers.
The board signed a certificate of appreciation for David Cotta, a deputy with the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Department and the coordinator for Guilford’s police patrol. Cotta has retired after 18 years of service.
They also voted to send a letter of condolence to the family of the late Jim Silverman, the longtime manager of the Mid-Maine Solid Waste Association in Dexter.
The board also appointed Ann Dall to the Guilford Memorial Library board of trustees.