PUTNEY—After months of deliberation, at the June 27 special Selectboard meeting, the Board decided to suspend municipal recycling.
The roll-off recycling bins — until recently, located next to the fire station — were removed June 30 by workers with the Windham Solid Waste Management District.
The bins may not return until late August, and they won’t likely remain near the fire station.
In December, the WSWMD Board of Supervisors, made up of a representative of each of the District’s 20 member-towns, voted to close the Materials Recovery Facility and end the pickup of recyclables.
The MRF is where District staff brought the recyclables to sort and store them in preparation for their sale to the recyclables market.
A few months ago, District Clerk Kristen Benoit contacted member-towns’ officials to let them know towns could keep a few roll-off bins if they wanted to continue offering recycling to their residents, but that towns would have to contract with private haulers for pickup.
Because each town would then be responsible for paying a private hauler, rather than pay an assessment to the District for all services, including recycling, most town officials wanted to limit access to their recycling bins to their residents only.
To prevent out-of-towners from using their bins, officials would have to invest in some sort of infrastructure — fences, gates, guards — to keep outsiders out.
When most towns prepared their Fiscal Year 2018 budgets, they reflected only the District assessment, not the costs for building their own recycling facilities.
Most towns, including Putney, didn’t have enough money in the budget to maintain municipal recycling.
Since the District vote, Selectboard members, Town Manager Cynthia Stoddard, Highway Superintendent Brian Harlow, and District Board Representative Dan Toomey debated and researched what to do about recycling — including if the town should do anything.
They conducted a site visit to the Town Garage to scope out whether moving the recycling bins there made sense for the town.
Meanwhile, the clock was ticking.
Town officials sought bids from a number of area private haulers for taking away the recyclables, but only one company, Triple T Trucking, came back with an estimate.
It was for $38,000 for the year.
Putney budgeted only $40,000 for the year for recycling, and this doesn’t leave enough money to revamp the Town Garage site. Even if it did, officials with the Highway Department told Selectboard members they couldn’t have the area ready by July 1 — the day after the District came to take away the bins.
The earliest Highway Department officials estimated they could have the Town Garage site ready by is late August.
Until then, Putney residents without a private trash hauler will have to truck their recyclables to the District’s Old Ferry Road facility themselves — and pay for an access permit to do so.