More money put into buying trucks...

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More money put into buying trucks...

Postby RBarnes » Thu Jan 06, 2005 11:56 am

I would suggest watching the playback of last nights budget committee meeting as there was an interesting discussion that took place regarding the transfer station and it’s operation. I’m sure this will be expanded upon when we get to that portion of the budget but it was touched on during the town overview.

Starting Feb 1st the town will be taking over the loading and hauling portion of the operation. Currently we outsource through a company called We Care. Merrimack purchased it’s own vehicles and will be hiring (if they haven’t already) a new employee to allow the town to run this portion of the operation.

This brings up a number of questions in my mind…

a) The money used to purchase the trucks and new equipment was apparently due to the vast over budgeting in last years budget with the station since they actually though it was going to be used. Since this money was budgeted but expected to be offset by revenue from tipping fees I don’t think it was honest for the town to spend it for other uses since there is now no longer the revenue to offset it.

b) This was done with no public participation. No public opinions were considered either pro or con for this.

c) As Norm correctly questioned, in this coming years budget there are no costs reflective of maintenance or upkeep of these new vehicles which will use gas, need oil changes, repairs etc. Not to mention they will eventually need to be replaced as they wear out. Were these costs even considered when the town looked at its savings in taking over the business? Has the town considered the rising costs of wages and benefits of having another permanent employee vs. the 10 year contractual agreement we had? Maybe we will save for the first year or two but by year 10 are we still saving or have we spent more then we would have otherwise with the long-term contract?

d) If this town wises up and puts curbside back up for a town vote and it’s approved by the town, will the investment into these trucks equate to even larger loses due to this station or is there a way we can recoop some of the investment made in them?
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Postby Michael Thompson » Thu Jan 06, 2005 12:57 pm

Rick,

I personally think this was a wise decision based on the operation of the TS. I believe it was pointed out that there will be a savings of $500,000 realized in the fiscal year 05-06.

That would mean the budget figure would be about $400,000 over budgeted for the 04-05 year.

I would like to see the TS become a self suficiant enity much like the Merrimack Water District. You have a PAYT system where you purchase the bags from local stores or at the TS. This way the service is being paid by the people using it.

This would lead to no more issues, if someone wants curbside they pay for that service and if someone wants to haul the trash to our "world class" transfer station they pay for that service. No one can complain.
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Postby RBarnes » Thu Jan 06, 2005 2:03 pm

Michael Thompson wrote:I personally think this was a wise decision based on the operation of the TS. I believe it was pointed out that there will be a savings of $500,000 realized in the fiscal year 05-06.

That would mean the budget figure would be about $400,000 over budgeted for the 04-05 year.


As Dick Hinch pointed out in a BOS meeting the prior hauling contract was based on a per ton rate so I have a hard time believing we would have still being paying what we budgeted for last year since we used the absolute highest tonnage estimate for the budget.

So I don’t believe there is any real savings in our buying trucks. And since this was done without any public meetings in which the information was discussed we may never really know for sure what the contacts vs. town owned actual costs came out to be.

It doesn’t bother me as much that they bought the trucks in as much as how they went about doing this. The public should have been informed and been able to question those involved in this process. If there is a real savings then why would that have been a problem?

Michael Thompson wrote:I would like to see the TS become a self suficiant enity much like the Merrimack Water District. You have a PAYT system where you purchase the bags from local stores or at the TS. This way the service is being paid by the people using it.

This would lead to no more issues, if someone wants curbside they pay for that service and if someone wants to haul the trash to our "world class" transfer station they pay for that service. No one can complain.


I agree with you there. I too would like to see it go 100% PAYT although I don’t ever see it reaching a 100% self funded level. It would cost people MORE to pay the full costs of using that station then it would cost to hire a hauler. So who in their right mind would pay for self service when they can have full service for less? And with each fewer person using the facility, the average operational costs put back on those still using it would continue to go up and up since costs such as salaries, truck repairs and maintenance, building upkeep etc are not going to go away with fewer users. These costs leave us with a higher per user cost average.
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Postby lowerrtaxes » Thu Jan 06, 2005 3:19 pm

Michael Thompson wrote:I would like to see the TS become a self suficiant enity much like the Merrimack Water District. You have a PAYT system where you purchase the bags from local stores or at the TS. This way the service is being paid by the people using it.

This would lead to no more issues, if someone wants curbside they pay for that service and if someone wants to haul the trash to our "world class" transfer station they pay for that service. No one can complain.


I've got no problem with that.

Let's apply the same logic to the much needed ballfields, the MYA, the parks and nature preserves and any proposed covered bridges and corner signs.

Let's do it - as much as we can for the schools and kindergartens too.
STOP GOVERNMENT GREED
STOP GOVERNMENT SPRAWL
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Re: More money put into buying trucks...

Postby Norman Phillips » Fri Jan 07, 2005 1:05 pm

RBarnes wrote:------
a) The money used to purchase the trucks and new equipment was apparently due to the vast over budgeting in last years budget with the station since they actually though it was going to be used. Since this money was budgeted but expected to be offset by revenue from tipping fees I don’t think it was honest for the town to spend it for other uses since there is now no longer the revenue to offset it.


Rick, I suspect that we will hear a more rational explanation of the money for the trucks when Mr. Chase presents the SW budget on January 19.

It may be that the $250 thsd contract with We Care might have had enough uncommitted money in it to buy the trucks, etc. If not, the money would have had to come from some other place than taxes or tipping fees, since the taxes were set on the assumption that the (unrealized ) use by, and (unrealized) tipping fees from, local haulers would have been spent on exporting that amount of trash-----i.e. no export, no revenue.
Sincerely, Norm Phillips
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Re: More money put into buying trucks...

Postby RBarnes » Thu Jan 13, 2005 9:09 am

Norman Phillips wrote:It may be that the $250 thsd contract with We Care might have had enough uncommitted money in it to buy the trucks, etc. If not, the money would have had to come from some other place than taxes or tipping fees, since the taxes were set on the assumption that the (unrealized ) use by, and (unrealized) tipping fees from, local haulers would have been spent on exporting that amount of trash-----i.e. no export, no revenue.


Apparently as was pointed out by Dick Hinch last night at the Budget Committee meeting that the discussion to drop we care took place on Dec 7th. Unfortunately I can find no trace of this mentioned in anything posted on the Merrimack Journals website. And in yet another glaring example of our town’s website lacking, there are no BOS minutes beyond mid November 2004. If anyone is aware of articles posted on the web that help explain some of the logic behind the town’s choice to go it on their own I’m very interested in reading it so please supply a link. And for the town officials reading this (we all know you do!) can you please pressure Nick or whoever is responsible for posting the minutes to catch up to some of the more recently approved minutes (as I would hope the selectmen have approved minutes more recently then mid November.
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Re: More money put into buying trucks...

Postby Norman Phillips » Thu Jan 13, 2005 10:15 am

RBarnes wrote:-----Apparently as was pointed out by Dick Hinch last night at the Budget Committee meeting that the discussion to drop we care took place on Dec 7th. Unfortunately I can find no trace of this mentioned in anything posted on the Merrimack Journals ( sic!) website.
Rick, the relevant minutes mentioned by Hinch, according to my notes, are for October 7, not December 7 ( Dec. 7 was a Tuesday, reserved for the Planning Board ) . Please go to

http://www.ci.merrimack.nh.us/Boards/BO ... 041007.htm

And in yet another glaring example of our town’s website lacking, there are no BOS minutes beyond mid November 2004.
There was only one meeting in December, and I would be greatly surprised if those minutes were not approved and posted at the first opportunity. So the lack of posted minutes is not a reflection on the website, Rick, but a reflection of holiday joy and relaxation! :D :D :D :D :D
Sincerely, Norm Phillips
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Postby RBarnes » Thu Jan 13, 2005 11:38 am

Thanks for the correction Norm.

I’m glad to see that I was wrong about this not being done in a public meeting. I’m a bit sorry I missed it though since I think there were important questions that have been overlooked.

For starters just as I suspected, the projected savings do not account for the additional staff that was taken on to drive the trucks. Even if the truck driver is being paid $30,000 to $40,000 a year you have to add about 20k for benefits since it’s now a town employee. (Bob L used 20k as a rough guess at benefit amounts for what they would cost the town, I think his words were “at least $20,000â€
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