Hamden weighs transfer station tipping fees

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By Nora Grace-Flood, New Haven Independent

HAMDEN, CT — Should Hamden stop requiring proof of residency for the right to drop off trash at the city’s transfer station — and instead start charging a fee to all dumpers?

The city’s Legislative Council debated the issue in a meeting on Tuesday evening – then put it to a vote in late September after more than an hour of brainstorming on how to limit the lingering financial strain on taxpayers.

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The catalyst for this conversation was a proposed ordinance from the mayor’s office suggesting that the transfer station establish the following schedule:

  • $0.10 per pound for 201 pounds or more of bulky solid waste.
  • $0.06 per pound for 200 pounds or less of bulky solid waste.
  • $0.06 per pound for 201 pounds or more of organic waste.
  • No charge for 200 pounds or less of organic waste.

Mayor’s chief of staff Sean Grace said the city reviewed transfer station policies statewide and found that six cents were on the low end and 10 cents were on the high end of the tipping fee spectrum. . The city doesn’t need to charge for organic waste, he said, because Hamden can compost those materials and plans to sell topsoil and wood chips soon to make extra money.

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He explained the logic behind the proposed new resolution (read it in full here): “It costs us money to process the waste and ship it, so it’s a way to recoup some of those costs.” He also noted that the city was seeking to deter “some of the abuses that regularly occur at our transfer station.”

This “abuse,” Grace explained, refers to businesses dropping off excessive amounts of waste at Hamden Transfer Station because the town is one of the few municipalities that doesn’t charge for the service — and because regulations in matters of residence are “not practically applicable”. as Grace said.

For example, Joe Colello, who runs the transfer station, told the Independent that public works routinely deals with individuals bringing in fake or expired permits, stealing car permits proving local residency or riding with a friend who lives in Hamden as a way around the residency requirement.

When that happens, Colello said, “Hamden taxpayers foot the bill.”

Officials said the aim of the proposal was to reduce the costs of depositing small amounts of waste while ensuring that large companies stop bringing large amounts of waste to the site or start paying for it. TO DO.

Colello said a 2016 study by the Transfer Station found using the scale could bring the city $250,000 a year. Grace added that the hope is that any money brought in through a levy system will specifically offset the costs currently associated with dealing with municipal waste.

Many council members expressed concern that the resolution would place another undue burden on the Hamdenis.

Councilman Bob Anthony argued that it seemed unfair to “cut a service” for residents since they have long paid through their taxes to support the composting and garbage maintenance that takes place at the transfer station. .. while dealing with an ever-increasing thousand rate.

Others said that if the city were to introduce a fee, it should ensure that Hamden also guarantees door-to-door bulk garbage collection twice this year, a service that was cut from the city’s budget in 2021 and reinstated later.

Council members also pointed out that bulk garbage pickup is only available to landlords, not condo owners (although they got a tax refund in response to this reality in the budget). last year) or apartment tenants.

Ideas floated during the conversation included switching to monthly bulk garbage pickup to accompany transfer station fees; print unreplicable transfer station passes to send to Hamden residents; provide residents with a number of free passes; or waiving the transfer station fee in the event the city can’t find the money to accommodate the bulk pickup this spring. (The city has so far correctly budgeted for only one garbage pickup in October).

“We are not the United States Mint,” Grace said in response to the prospect of printing passes. “I don’t mean to be sarcastic – but I don’t think anyone in the state has the ability to create something that would be impervious to replication.” He also warned against introducing new systems that would create more complications and work for public works, such as increasing the number of bulk pick-up rounds or attempting to collect additional visitor data from transfer stations.

The resolution states that the mayor has the right to suspend all charges at the station pending an emergency or a special statement from his office.

Councilor Cory O’Brien said he believes “simplicity is better for this [initial] implementation,” adding that the board should receive regular reports regarding the average amount of debris and litter that individuals deposit at the center to determine how best to adjust the fee structure in the future.

O’Brien recalled when the city first purchased a scale for $300,000 in 2013 with the intention of changing the city’s waste disposal processes. “The purpose of the scale,” he said, was to collect payment from “businesses and certain individuals who deposit large sums.”

But, he said, if the data shows the city is no longer dumping, “I don’t think we should be charging residents small amounts. I fear we are stuck with a fee system that is too burdensome for our residents. »

Whichever decision the city chooses, Grace said it would take eight to 12 weeks after a council vote to install a new software system and card reader that are essential to start the payment and tracking process.

Grace shared that it would likely cost the city more to perform data recovery efforts through the software, though he said he is currently unaware of the amount of this additional cost.

In the meantime, he said, councils years ago had already spent hundreds of thousands on a scale – and any software spend would pale in comparison, remaining in the thousands rather than “tens or twenty” of thousands.

The likeliest alternative, he said, that the city could consider over the next month before the council’s scheduled vote, is to allow any spills under forty pounds to remain free.

In the meantime, he said, “if we get the ladder going, at least we will have new revenue that will offset the changes we need to make.”


The New Haven Independent is a nonprofit public interest daily news site founded in 2005.

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