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Selectboard calls special meeting on future of trash collection

VERNON—As town officials continue mulling over how to pay for municipal trash pick-up, some new information presented by the Recycling Committee spurred the Selectboard to call a special meeting with the Recycling Committee, the Town Treasurer, and town trash hauler Triple T Trucking Inc. of Brattleboro.

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 24, in the Selectboard room in the Town Hall basement. The public is encouraged to attend.

At the May 2 regular Selectboard meeting, members of the committee told Board members they had discovered the town’s Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) trash budget also is paying for municipal services that include rubbish and recycling pick-up at the fire station, the recreation center, the town offices, and the elementary school.

“It used to come out of the Selectboard budget,” Planning Commission member Janet Rasmussen said, adding that a recent budget reworking moved the costs to the trash budget, “which makes it untenable for PAYT to ever be self-sustaining,” unless the town charges upwards of $10 per PAYT bag.

As Board member Josh Unruh pointed out, this means residents who opt out of the PAYT program by contracting with a private hauler or bringing their trash directly to a facility are paying nothing toward Vernon’s municipal trash services.

Townspeople who participate in PAYT are left holding the bag.

Heather Frost of the Recycling Committee asked the Selectboard to remove municipal services from the trash budget, but Board Chair Chris Howe said that couldn’t happen this year. Howe reminded Frost the budget was passed at Town Meeting.

Frost said the Recycling Committee couldn’t determine how much of the town’s trash budget goes to municipal services because “nothing is itemized” — the statements from Triple T merely list one total amount billed to the town.

Unruh asked committee members to request Triple T to make two separate contracts this year, one for municipal services and one for PAYT, so the Board can use this data next year during budget season.

Rasmussen suggested each municipal service tell the Board whether they need a dumpster of the size they currently have.

During the discussion, the Recycling Committee and the Selectboard talked about how to keep the PAYT program afloat until the next budget season, including changing PAYT bag prices and the frequency of curbside pick-up.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #357 (Wednesday, May 18, 2016). This story appeared on page C1.

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