The Disciplines used to Develop the Ad-hoc Numbers

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The Disciplines used to Develop the Ad-hoc Numbers

Postby Mark Fitzgerald » Fri Feb 14, 2003 10:35 am

I think it would be helpful for residents to understand the Ad-hoc's approach and voting record on the numbers that were presented in their report. I have now watched many people, including those who did not attend a single meeting, take issue with these figures. This needs to be addressed.

The most controversial costs are those relating to private collection and self-haul costs so perhaps its best to start there. The committee decided early on (2nd meeting) that the numbers must reflect an apples to apples comparison. Below are the minutes from the August 21, 2002 meeting where these costs were voted on by the Committee. I will copy the actual discussions in another posting.

Economic Evaluation of Private Collection Costs

David McCray moved with a second by Mark Mercier that this Committee adopt 34.5 cents per mile and 10.6 miles per round trip, for calculating the average out-of-pocket expense for self haulers. Ed Silva noted that makes it complicated for the citizens. David McCray noted that we don’t want to assume people will self-haul and wanted to confirm that we are on the same principal for coming up with the numbers.

David McCray moved to amend his previous motion that the Solid Waste Ad-Hoc Committee adopt $310,474 for the economic cost for self-haulers that bring their solid waste to the transfer facility. The motion was seconded by Mark Fitzgerald and carried 8-0-0.

Mark Fitzgerald moved with a second by Bob Kelley that the Committee accept the total private collection costs for 3050 homes is $577,900. The motion carried 8-0-0.

Mark Fitzgerald moved with a second by Tony Pellegrino that we adopt the total sum of $94,857 to account for private collections for 2892 condominium units in the Town of Merrimack. The motion carried 7-1-0 with Mark Mercier opposed.


The minutes and tape show that Mr. Mercier was opposed to the condo figure because he believed it was too low.

The discussion (which I will copy into other postings) will show that most of those individuals who now oppose the discussion of private collection and self-haul costs participated in these discussions and SUPPORTED the conclusions the committee reached. What has made them change their minds?
Mark Fitzgerald
 

Postby Mark Fitzgerald » Fri Feb 14, 2003 12:32 pm

Now that the voting records on these numbers have been shown, it makes sense to detail the discussions that took place that preceded the voting. The first step is to identify how many Merrimack households were using private collection and how many were self-hauling. Ultimately the Ad-hoc committee wound up with the identical ratios generated and reported by the original SWAC. The bolded text is my added emphasis for these individuals are now claiming either the Ad-hoc figures are wrong or that they should not be included in the evaluation.

He (Mark Fitzgerald) added that first we need to agree that these ratios are correct as they will affect the financial outcome. Chairman Hinch noted that we want to get something as a baseline and if there are any significant differences he asked the members to comment. Lenny Worster noted that the numbers for contracted single-family were generated by questioning independent haulers, big and small, and by default we come up with a third number for self-haulers. Ted Parmenter, Rod Buckley and Mark Mercier noted they feel the numbers as stated are OK. Chairman Hinch verified they would use those numbers as the baseline.


The "ratios" were:
3250 Single Family HH that self-haul
3050 Single Family HH with private collection
2892 condo/multi-family HH with private collection
Mark Fitzgerald
 

Postby Mark Fitzgerald » Fri Feb 14, 2003 12:49 pm

Next, it makes sense to detail the discussion leading to the 8-0-0 vote on approving the private collection costs for Single Families. Again, bolded text is my emphasis aimed at pointing out the conflict between what some people are saying now about the numbers and what they were saying while the numbers were being generated.

He (Ed Silva) continued that he would like to work with the numbers they have today, because the local haulers have mentioned they don’t think their disposal cost will increase too much. Chairman Hinch noted that if the local haulers are comfortable working with these numbers 1.5 years out, they would be good for January 2004. Mark Mercier mentioned that he understands the concern for the future, but we are turning these number in next month. Norman Phillips suggested they take the lower bid, but mentioned to take into consideration that the population is going to increase over that period. Referring back to the text, Mr. Fitzgerald noted that if we continue with that paragraph, this takes the tipping fee out of the equation. We have taken the total pricing that the hauler has offered the customer and backed out the tipping fee. Mark Mercier stated that Merrimack customers are throwing away much more than the 1.15/tons per person, which is much more than other communities that we have seen, and that is due to the lack of recycling. Ed Silva noted that he would be willing to consider what Mr. Mercier is say, but does not feel it affects the numbers. Rod Buckley added that they should round the figure from $257.00/year to $260.00/year. Norman Phillips asked Mr. Buckley if he also sees the extreme waste that Mr. Mercier stated. Mr. Buckley stated approximately 25% of his cost is the tipping fee and he agrees with Mr. Mercier. Mr. Phillips noted that in that case the tipping fee would be $50.00 instead of $46.00. Mark Mercier said $56.00 and Rod Buckley said $58.50. Chairman Hinch asked for a consensus of the Committee on a $57.00 tipping fee. Mr. Fitzgerald noted that we are using $257.75/year, all agreed, and we are going to back out the $57.00 tipping fee, which would leave a cost of $200.00/year.

Mark Fitzgerald stated it is important to understand that while we are using the single-family home figure, some residents in Crosswoods Path have lower cost than this. He suggested they use 2850 households at $200.00/year and 200 at Crosswoods Path at $150.00/year. Mr. Worster stated he feels there are more than 200 multi-family households, but doesn’t feel it would make that much difference. Mr. Fitzgerald noted that he spoke to Community Development Director Jay Minkarah and he said there are 192 multi-family households in Crosswoods Path. Mr. Buckley added that he feels that is a conservative number, and asked how Mr. Minkarah decided they were condos as opposed to single family homes. Mr. Buckley added that there is wheeling and dealing with multiple customers, throughout the town. Chairman Hinch noted that the number that is in dispute is not the 3050 homes, but whether the number without a special rate is 2850 homes or perhaps less than that, and what impact does that have, plus or minus 100 homes. Mr. Silva noted that if Mr. Fitzgerald talked to Mr. Minkarah, he is comfortable with those numbers, and if we add the conservation aspect, we can call it 300 homes. Lenny Worster added that it reduces the number of household’s delivery costs. Mr. Fitzgerald added he would be willing to go to 300 homes. Chairman Hinch asked for consensus of the Committee, that we would use 3050 for single family homes, and we would use the number of 300 homes for special rates, which leaves a balance of 2750 single family homes. Mr. Fitzgerald figured 2750 single family homes times $200.00/year, excluding hauling and tipping, would be $550,000, and $45,000 for 300 special rate homes, making a total of $595,000. He continued that we need to subtract the tipping fee out of the special $150.00/year rate to stay consistent, so that would be 300 special rate homes at $93.00, which would reduce the $595,000 to $577,900.


What we see here is that the very numbers some are now taking issue with were actually modified by the Ad-hoc committee due to testimony provided by these same people.
Mark Fitzgerald
 

Postby Mark Fitzgerald » Fri Feb 14, 2003 12:59 pm

Now we can detail the discussions that led to the 7-1-0 vote for the condo costs:

Mark Fitzgerald noted that now they have to work on condo costs. He continued that what is confusing is that last year there was a survey done that the average condo annual disposal cost was $78.80 per unit, but if you go to the DSM Report, he assumes $70.00 per unit and there is no justification for that. Mr. Fitzgerald noted that there is a letter from Waste Management that includes condos at $130.00 per unit, but that does not have any tie to what is going on in Merrimack today. Mark Fitzgerald felt that the difference could be that there was recycling involved. He continued that he feels the $78.80 is a solid number, and noted that Bob Kelley supplied two documents that had figures that were $5.00 within each other for the last year. Mr. Fitzgerald suggested they take the $78.80 and back out the $46.00 tipping fee per condo unit, so that comes up with $32.80 per year that condos would pay. Mr. Parmenter suggested they back out the $57.00 to be consistent. Chairman Hinch noted that it makes sense to use the $57.00 tipping fee when dealing with single family homes, but when dealing with condos the $46.00 would be more realistic. Mr. Fitzgerald noted that experience has shown that single family homes generate more waste than condos. Mr. Mercier stated he felt the same on that issue.
Dave McCray arrived at 7:55 p.m.

Mark Mercier stated that he finds it hard to believe they are getting service for $32.00 per year. Mr. Buckley noted that he doesn’t think we should back the tipping fee out from that number, and voiced concern if we should use a number that no one understands. He continued that we are cutting that number in half without understanding why. Lenny Worster stated that The Commons has 144 units that use dumpsters and all other units have curbside. The dumpsters are much, much cheaper and he feels that is what is blowing the numbers around. If 50% are using the dumpsters and 50% are using curbside, that is skewing the numbers. Mr. Silva noted that if everyone is comfortable with the consultant’s number, he is willing to use that, but there has to be rational behind his number. Mr. Parmenter commented that he would ignore DSM’s number as the consultant says it is an estimate. He continued that Mark Fitzgerald’s number is researched and if the overall average is 1.15/tons per year, and single family homes are higher than condos by 25%, that number begins to make sense. Mr. Buckley agreed. Mr. Phillips commented that if condos generate less, it is known that they don’t have to pay a big tipping fee, if you accept the $78.80 instead of subtracting the tipping fee, 1.15/tons per year makes sense and to go with these numbers, and throw out the DSM numbers. Chairman Hinch asked if going from $57.00 to $46.00 doesn’t that become the rational. Mr. Silva noted that $57.00 represents the higher volume of trash. Mr. Mercier stated that now we would be assuming again, if you say it is 9/10 of a ton, but maybe it is ¼ of a ton and he does not want to give customers assumptions when they ask. Mr. Silva stated that in his opinion we should use the 1.15/ton times the disposal costs. Bob Kelley asked why they couldn’t use 1.15/ton as a benchmark and go on from there. Chairman Hinch asked the members if they were comfortable with doing that. Mr. Phillips noted that he could call the condos and see if they know how much waste is coming out of each household, because he doesn’t know if the haulers keep track of that. Chairman Hinch confirmed that the members agreed to use the $78.80, backing out the $46.00 tipping fee. Mr. Fitzgerald noted that we wouldn’t have the average 1.15/ton base because we haven’t compensated for the 25% increase of waste from Merrimack residents. Chairman Hinch asked Mr. Fitzgerald if his suggestion of $78.80 is OK, but he is not comfortable with the $46.00 tipping fee, that it should be 9/10 per ton. Chairman Hinch noted that 9/10 per ton becomes $36.00. Ed Silva noted that 1.15/ton is the national average, Lenny Worster feels it should be 1.25/ton, and maybe we could ask this question of the Mr. Burns in Hudson. Mr. Fitzgerald noted that we need to put something down, and if the Committee agrees with 1.15/ton, then put that down. He continued that if we are going to make a broad assumption of 3000 homes based on 1/6 of those customers as special rate customers, I would like to see us make a simpler adjustment in the other direction to make the playing field level. But the final analysis is not going to make much of a difference, and if the Committee agrees to the $46.00 tipping fee, he will be happy with that. Mr. Mercier repeated that he needs to be able to explain to his customers how we came to that number. Mr. Phillips noted that when he made his first presentation to the Committee, it pointed to the present cost to the voters and the voters are not going to get these numbers. They are going to get numbers for how much they will pay on the tax base for collection and they will be able to compare what they are now paying. He continued that these are guideline figures for the Board of Selectmen. Mr. Fitzgerald suggested that we use $78.80/year at 1.15/tons per person, backing out the $46.00 leaving $32.80, times 2892 condo households with a total of $94,857. The Committee agreed with that number.


Here again, the final numbers agreed to be the committee were modified as a direct result of input from people who now take issue with the numbers. There is a pattern developing here.
Mark Fitzgerald
 

Postby Mark Fitzgerald » Fri Feb 14, 2003 1:13 pm

And last, the always controversial self-haul cost discussion which led to another 8-0-0 vote:

Mr. Fitzgerald went into the economic costs for self-hauling; residents delivering their own waste to the landfill. He noted that the consultant did recognize that these costs are important, and we must assign a figure to compare this against a curbside program that accommodates the entire Town. The Committee reviewed #3 on page 2. Mr. Phillips mentioned that many trips for residents are combined with other errands, so that is the reason for cutting it in half. Mr. Phillips compared the first and second guides on page 4 of the text, and stated that this is obviously not a very efficient way to bring trash to the landfill. He continued that the lowest figure is the one DSM came up with and he recommended that number. Lenny Worster noted that in the DSM report they used 3250/units and he thinks the federal 34.5 cents per mile is a high number. Dave McCray agreed the 34.5 cents is a high number as some residents deliver every other week. Mark Mercier noted with regard to vehicle registration fees, if you don’t go to the dump you still have to register the car. Mr. Phillips noted that this is an alternate point of reference to DSM’s number. Chairman Hinch asked the members if they were in consensus that using DSM’s number of $310,474 would be more appropriate for their purposes. Mark Fitzgerald noted that he would like to see this as the Committee’s number, not DSM’s number. Mr. Phillips stated that cutting the figure in half is Merrimack’s explanation, not DSM’s. Mr. Buckley stated that he is having trouble with this whole concept and doesn’t see where these numbers pertain to anything. He continued that if we go this route we should be counting the cost of barrels for the self-haulers and the cost of their shoes. He doesn’t see why Merrimack needs to be concerned with how each person gets trash to a location. Mr. Silva noted that one reason we discussed this is that it is out-of-pocket expense and we need the true cost. David Burrows stated that the Committee better get more accurate on this number, as most vehicles hauling to the landfill are second vehicles and noted that it probably costs him $100.00 a year to get his waste to the landfill, plus he sometimes takes his neighbors waste at the same time. Mr. Phillips noted he feels this is a valid point. Mark Fitzgerald noted that we are trying to give the voters the numbers and we have spent a lot of time putting these together. Nothing has been presented to the Board of Selectmen yet, we will probably come up with ten different options and the voters need to pay a little bit more attention. Mr. Silva noted that we are trying to show what it costs to dispose of solid waste at the landfill. Mr. Parmenter noted that he thinks these numbers are a good place to start and he understands the concern about the vehicles, but you can defend these numbers, no one is ever the average. He commented that this is somewhat location dependent. He continued that on average he makes 26 trips per year, so these numbers make sense for the existing facility, but if you move it, the mileage might vary. But more importantly there is a much greater chance of the trip being combined with other errands and that is a selling point for a new location. Mr. Phillips agreed with Mr. Parmenter.

David McCray moved with a second by Mark Mercier that this Committee adopt 34.5 cents per mile and 10.6 miles per round trip, for calculating the average out-of-pocket expense for self haulers. Ed Silva noted that makes it complicated for the citizens. David McCray noted that we don’t want to assume people will self-haul and wanted to confirm that we are on the same principal for coming up with the numbers.


Nothing much changed on this issue, the committee simply adopted DSM Environmental's estimate of 10.6 miles @ 34.5 cents per mile every other week. Some members thought people went to the landfill every week and while others thought the 34.5 cents per mile was too high, so it was agreed we meet in the middle which just happened to fall in line with DSM's number. With respect to Mr. Parmenter's comments relative to the possible movement of the facility causing these numbers to change, that possibility no longer exists and therefore I believe his comments relative to the costs of delivery to the existing location are still in effect. In fairness to Mr. Buckley, he did not accept the idea at all.
Mark Fitzgerald
 

Postby Mark Fitzgerald » Fri Feb 14, 2003 1:22 pm

I hope residents trying to understand the dynamics behind this situation find this information helpful. Most importantly what I wanted to bring forward was that of the 6 people who have come forward and criticized the Ad-hoc figures and disciplines, 3 of them actually helped formulate the costs, 2 of them never attended any of the 31 meetings and 1 attended perhaps 50% of the meetings but never said a WORD about their belief the numbers were "dishonest".
Mark Fitzgerald
 

Postby Mark Cloutier » Fri Feb 14, 2003 1:36 pm

Mark,

Thanks to meeting minutes and extremely organized record keeping and most importantly your huge contribution towards educating the public.

Unfortunately we are probably considered the "uneducated voters" by certain members of the BOS.

Thanks,

Mark
Mark Cloutier
 
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Postby Mark Fitzgerald » Fri Feb 14, 2003 2:13 pm

Mark,

You know what the worst part is? The BOS, who INSISTED this committe be formed while ignoring the many calls for THEM to do the work, sits back and lets this happen. If THEY had a certain belief relative to how this work should have been accomplished, then THEY SHOULD HAVE DONE IT. Instead they let others do the footwork and when they didn't like the result, they criticized the work but only AFTER they disolved the committee. Remember, the Ad-hoc had met 29 times and was only one week from its final recommendation when the Mast Road plan was dropped on it. The current round of criticism and indifference to the Ad-hoc's work by the BOS and the request for a TS at the existing site are the pound of flesh certain BOS members want for the Ad-hoc's differing opinions.

This is a "cancer" far worse than any perceived problems the old town forum caused, far worse. What it tells any future volunteers is that they better damn well agree with the BOS or else they'll be left to the wolves while the BOS throws fresh chicken blood over them.
Mark Fitzgerald
 

Postby Mark Cloutier » Fri Feb 14, 2003 2:29 pm

I couldn't agree more.

I hope this fiasco comes to an intelligent end soon so we can set our sites on electing some NEW, HONEST, INTELLIGENT individuals to the BOS.

I'll be honest I haven't arttended any of the town meetings, but I watch ALL of them on television and occassionally watch some of them more than once. I read most of the postings to this forum as well as other sources of news and updates on a daily basis and I can't believe what I see and hear at times.

Also, after listening to all the ADHOC meetings I highly doubt that the current BOS could have dissected this issue on the same level as the ADHOC commitee did.

My tax dollars demand much more than what I have been seeing.
Mark Cloutier
 
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Location: Merrimack, NH

Postby Muriel Lortie » Fri Feb 14, 2003 2:53 pm

Mark F,
At one of the Ad-hoc meetings you were discussing costs for the condos, I recall that Ted Parmenter & Rod Buckley (who were in the audience) played a part in creating these numbers. They agreed with your numbers and were very happy to see that you were doing your homework.

Mark Mercier (local hauler) who also sat on the Ad-hoc Committee replied and said that he believed your condo numbers were too low.


I am confused as to why Ted and Rod are now contradicting these numbers.
:?:
Muriel Lortie
 
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Postby Mark Fitzgerald » Fri Feb 14, 2003 3:26 pm

Mark,

I honestly believe you are going to get your wish with respect to the solution and the next BOS.

The people I talk to (excluding one neighbor :) ) are absolutely fed up.
Here is just what I can think of off the top of my head;

1. They form the Ad-hoc but don't give it a charge.

2. They cite the need for the Ad-hoc so "we can have numbers we all agree on at the next election", they accept the numbers.......and then don't use them.

3. They remove the existing site from the charge because of Article 25 then put it back in the charge the next week citing fear of petitioned articles.

4. They accept the Ad-hoc charge including a recommendation and then claim in the local papers that the Ad-hoc "blackmailed" the BOS for the ability to provide a recommendation when it doesn't jive with their Mast Road plan.

5. They tell a judge they can't use LR but ultimately put out an article to use LR.

6. They accept Ad-hoc numbers but don't accept Ad-hoc recommendation.

7. They first claim they are not going to put out any articles, then they decide to put out 3 articles and now want to put out one article.

8. The one article they put out goes against everything they have stated to the public (and the judge) relative to the existing site, is insufficient to cover the activity defined, requires the voters to carry along a calculator and the town budget to figure out the total cost, depends on budget approval for viability, requires the rescinding of two articles, doesn't define the costs of the default program AND dips into a line item in the budget to reduce taxes.

This is what I have heard members Pellegrino, Carr and Gagnon describe as a "good, clean article".
Mark Fitzgerald
 

Postby Mark Fitzgerald » Fri Feb 14, 2003 3:38 pm

Mark,

I honestly believe you are going to get your wish with respect to the solution and the next BOS.

The people I talk to (excluding one neighbor :) ) are absolutely fed up.
Here is just what I can think of off the top of my head;

1. They form the Ad-hoc but don't give it a charge.

2. They cite the need for the Ad-hoc so "we can have numbers we all agree on at the next election", they accept the numbers.......and then don't use them.

3. They remove the existing site from the charge because of Article 25 then put it back in the charge the next week citing fear of petitioned articles.

4. They accept the Ad-hoc charge including a recommendation and then claim in the local papers that the Ad-hoc "blackmailed" the BOS for the ability to provide a recommendation when it doesn't jive with their Mast Road plan.

5. They tell a judge they can't use LR but ultimately put out an article to use LR.

6. They accept Ad-hoc numbers but don't accept Ad-hoc recommendation.

7. They first claim they are not going to put out any articles, then they decide to put out 3 articles and now want to put out one article.

8. The one article they put out goes against everything they have stated to the public (and the judge) relative to the existing site, is insufficient to cover the activity defined, requires the voters to carry along a calculator and the town budget to figure out the total cost, depends on budget approval for viability, requires the rescinding of two articles, doesn't define the costs of the default program AND dips into a line item in the budget to reduce taxes.

This is what I have heard members Pellegrino, Carr and Gagnon describe as a "good, clean article".
Mark Fitzgerald
 

Postby Wayne » Fri Feb 14, 2003 3:48 pm

Mark Fitzgerald wrote:I hope residents trying to understand the dynamics behind this situation find this information helpful. Most importantly what I wanted to bring forward was that of the 6 people who have come forward and criticized the Ad-hoc figures and disciplines, 3 of them actually helped formulate the costs, 2 of them never attended any of the 31 meetings and 1 attended perhaps 50% of the meetings but never said a WORD about their belief the numbers were "dishonest".

Mark,

You've provided a tremendous amount of historical detail here. My only suspicion is that there may not be a lot of residents that are able to, or willing to, digest all of it. I hope that at least those Ad-hoc members and viewers that seem to have forgotten all of this can maybe start to remember it and frame their arguments within it's context (Okay, Mark M, Rod, Ted, Dennis, etc.?). I mean, all we are asking for is accurate information - supporting facts that result from thorough investigation such as that the Ad-hoc has done.

A televised public forum to debate these numbers would really benefit the town. Perhaps more than one event, but it would be ideal if at least one of them could occur before the DS, so that citizens could go into the DS more informed and clear on why changes could/will be made to the warrant articles. The BOS will not start their education campaign until after the DS, but anyone uninformed about the issue might not realize what's behind some of the DS decisions, and (correctly or incorrectly) believe that a "group" has hijacked their articles and taken away their their choices.

I believe TS proponents will be soon publishing some projected costs based on Ad-hoc figures. If they use them honestly, then we'll really have something to debate. I want the whole town to hear that debate. Unfortunately, Mark, all the good information you're posting hear will not be seen by a large percentage of the town, so we need that more-public forum.

One last note, most voters will make their decision based on how it will effect them financially. I do hope they also at least consider the quality-of-life issue for all of the residents in the Lawrence Road area that are impacted. As Muriel points out, Nancy Gagnon's concern for the Nashua Wood Products abutter certainly should extend to LR as well. Unforunately, this whole thing has gotten personal for her, and instead she talks about their half-million-dollar homes. :roll:
Wayne
 
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Postby Mark Fitzgerald » Fri Feb 14, 2003 3:55 pm

Wayne,

You are absolutely right, only a small fraction of voters ever visit this site.

A debate is absolutely warranted and I'm sure those of us who feel curbside is the best choice for our town would participate. We actually tried this last year but could not get anyone who supports a transfer station to debate. Norman even tried to "water it down" a little by offering the questions to both sides in advance.

If you know of anyone willing to do so please contact him or her and let us know.
Mark Fitzgerald
 

Postby Denise O'Dwyer » Fri Feb 14, 2003 4:23 pm

I like the idea of a public debate on this issue. Many of my neighbors do not know where to begin when it comes to the trash issue. Maybe Betty or DA would like to step up to the plate and go to bat for a TS. They "seem" to have all the answers.

Denise
Denise O'Dwyer
 
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