Next step for Merrimack trash

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Re: Next step for Merrimack trash

Postby RBarnes » Thu Apr 14, 2011 8:58 am

MMK wrote:What would be the justification of moving the highway dept to the TS site, just so we can feel better about not having wasted it? They would need to build more buildings; including the salt shed which is only a few years old. They would need to install new fuel pumps. They would need to move all of their stockpiled materials; THOUSANDS of yards of sand, salt, road base, gravel, catch basins, pipes, etc.

But the worst part, instead of being centrally located with two means of egress, they would be pushed into one of the farthest corners of the town with essentially one means of egress.

Keep in mind that aside from the highway dept working out of there, the police and fire departments fuel and fix their vehicles there. Would you really want all of you emergency assests to have to go that far out of district to have to get fueled or dropped off for service?


Thank you for making these points. You've almost nailed everything that came to mind when I read that idea but I hesitated to post because coming from someone on Lawrence road it would be viewed as NIMBY.

The big one is the fuel pumps as you pointed out. The highway department site has the ability for town vehicles to refuel and as MMK said it's centrally located. Makes no sense to move it to a far northwest corner of town at a high cost to tax payers when we already have a perfectly functional site in a central easy to access location.

If we wanted to discuss centralizing anything it would be cheaper to create a small trash drop off point where the highway department is then it would be the other way around.

As I see it there are 2 questions that need to be asked and answered...

1) What's the best option for our solid waste?
2) If the Lawrence rd site is not needed or only needed in a limited basis what would be the best use of that property?

Maybe they can refit the transfer station into an admin building for the school :lol: (that's a joke if any school board members are reading this)
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Re: Next step for Merrimack trash

Postby TonyRichardson » Thu Apr 14, 2011 9:10 am

lynn wrote:you do not have the option of voting on this at 2 elections
this can only be done at the spring town meeting
noting town related can go on the november general election ballot.

you could pass out a survey and ask people to note their preferences
that way - but cannot be a ballot question


Can we not have a seperate local ballot to do at the same time?

I understand we can't put local issues on the national ballot, but we can't add another ballot for local issues either?
Seems kind of restrictive to me unless the state or feds are paying the cost of the election.
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Re: Next step for Merrimack trash

Postby MMK » Thu Apr 14, 2011 9:11 am

Is the TS building big enough for a hockey rink? The height is there obviously. . . .

Rink space is at a premium in Southern NH and they charge a premium to use it. . . .
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Re: Next step for Merrimack trash

Postby RBarnes » Thu Apr 14, 2011 9:27 am

TonyRichardson wrote:3. Use the spring election to present some (more than 2) of these options for the voters to choose from. I say some because a few of them will not practical fiscally.


This is the only part of what you said I disagree with. Let's say they put 4 options up for a vote. If they received 25%, 25%, 24% and 26% would the town take the 4th option and run with it even though only 26% voted for it? The other 74% of the voters may all have agreed it was the worst of the 4 but because they couldn't agree on one of the other 3 it became the top vote getter by default.

While I believe we'd find that the option we are using right now is the most expensive option of any, we really don't have to rush. There is no deadline to close the transfer station down like we had in closing the landfill down. We should make sure all questions are asked and that the best option is selected then the council should present that one best option to the town. If the town rejects it like they did PAYT this year then the council or committee goes back and puts forward the 2nd best option etc until we either choose to stay with what we have or find a better option that the town agrees on.
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Re: Next step for Merrimack trash

Postby RD » Thu Apr 14, 2011 9:31 am

MMK wrote:Is the TS building big enough for a hockey rink? The height is there obviously. . . .

Rink space is at a premium in Southern NH and they charge a premium to use it. . . .

That is a great idea!
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Re: Next step for Merrimack trash

Postby TonyRichardson » Thu Apr 14, 2011 9:49 am

RBarnes wrote:
TonyRichardson wrote:3. Use the spring election to present some (more than 2) of these options for the voters to choose from. I say some because a few of them will not practical fiscally.


This is the only part of what you said I disagree with. Let's say they put 4 options up for a vote. If they received 25%, 25%, 24% and 26% would the town take the 4th option and run with it even though only 26% voted for it? The other 74% of the voters may all have agreed it was the worst of the 4 but because they couldn't agree on one of the other 3 it became the top vote getter by default.

While I believe we'd find that the option we are using right now is the most expensive option of any, we really don't have to rush. There is no deadline to close the transfer station down like we had in closing the landfill down. We should make sure all questions are asked and that the best option is selected then the council should present that one best option to the town. If the town rejects it like they did PAYT this year then the council or committee goes back and puts forward the 2nd best option etc until we either choose to stay with what we have or find a better option that the town agrees on.



Thats why I wanted it voted on twice Rick.

Once to cull the herd to finalists, and then a second vote to pick the one to go with.
Ideally with the 2nd vote being binding rather than non-binding.


Having a first vote to reduce the options also allows more public input.
That is when we would find out about the "gotcha" stuff that the people looking into the options missed or didnt consider, the voters will bring them up.
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Re: Next step for Merrimack trash

Postby TonyRichardson » Thu Apr 14, 2011 10:09 am

One simple point I would like to make about waste disposal in Merrimack.

There is no solution possible that carries zero cost.

We, the taxpayers, will still have to fund waste disposal for the municipal and school facilities even if every resident is using private haulers.
But funding only that much waste disposal will be far cheaper than the current process.
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Re: Next step for Merrimack trash

Postby lynn » Thu Apr 14, 2011 10:37 am

"Can we not have a seperate local ballot to do at the same time?"

we cannot - been looked at before - can't happen

I know it would make sense - but it is not allowed
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Re: Next step for Merrimack trash

Postby TonyRichardson » Thu Apr 14, 2011 11:05 am

lynn wrote:"Can we not have a seperate local ballot to do at the same time?"

we cannot - been looked at before - can't happen

I know it would make sense - but it is not allowed


Ok Lynn, thanks.

Strange indeed.
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Re: Next step for Merrimack trash

Postby John Harrahy » Thu Apr 14, 2011 9:03 pm

Is there a time limit as to how long you can be logged on? I just finished typing a lengthy reply, and then found out I'd been logged off and lost it all.
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Re: Next step for Merrimack trash

Postby John Harrahy » Thu Apr 14, 2011 10:01 pm

Let me try the short version of what I typed and lost before.

1. The consensus of posters on this thread is that the TS isn't working out, that a different solution is needed.

2. The voters disagree with that. 3/4 of voters want the TS as it is. This same question keeps getting asked different ways year in and year out, and the answer is always the same - the voters want the TS, and they're willing to pay for it. It's not the cheapest solution (as others continually point out) but it's the compromise between convenience and cost that the voters want.

3. I believe that if another study is done showing a different model should be adopted it will get voted down again. By now everybody should have gotten the message - the voters want their TS. They like being able to take unlimited amounts of trash in unlimited sizes and shapes and being able to tip it over the edge and forget about it.

4. In place of all Tony's options, I propose another one. See if we can give local trash haulers a deal on tipping fees so they'll tip at our TS instead of out of town. I proposed this before and somebody said that's already been looked into, we'd have to offer less than we pay ourselves ($63.95/ton plus transportation) to get anyone to come.

If they really pay less than we do, why don't we look into taking our trash the same place they do? If it turns out that's wrong, that they really pay more, then maybe we can make a deal with them after all.

5. To be able to decide what's really best, we need real data. I agree with Gary Krupp, that we need to know how many tons of trash the TS actually gets per month, how much we actually pay to dispose of that trash, how many tons of recyclables does the RC take in per month, and how much do we actually get paid for it? And I'd like to add two more - how many people actually use the TS per month? How many use the RC per month? It seems we have to ask the TC to direct the TS/RC management to collect this data. Is this as simple as going to the next TC meeting, asking them to have this data collected, published and graphed for trends? If so, let's do it!

6. People say (again with no supporting data) that a lot of the trash the TS handles really includes a lot of recyclables. The Town's PAYT presentation assumed 50% of what's tipped as trash now is actually recyclable. To find out, we'd have to actually examine enough of the trash to get a significant sample size. The findings would then be broken down by weight per ton of trash by each type of recyclable item as well as by how much was actually not recyclable. This data needs to get published and graphed for trends. Based on this data, a town-wide education campaign should be mounted, telling everyone how much recyclable stuff gets trashed now, and how much money the Town could save by increasing recyling/reducing trash by a particular percentace. The savings should be stated in terms of cents on the tax rate, so everyone will appreciate it.

The TS personnel couldn't be asked to do the examination - it would have to be done by TC-sanctioned volunteers. If the TC agrees to get the other data collected, then they can be asked to allow trash examination. I'd volunteer to do some of that examination, and I'm sure others would too. And I'd be willing to work with others to develop a workable plan to get it done.
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Re: Next step for Merrimack trash

Postby Jeannine Stergios » Fri Apr 15, 2011 12:13 am

John

the voters want the TS, and they're willing to pay for it. It's not the cheapest solution (as others continually point out) but it's the compromise between convenience and cost that the voters want.


They're not willing to pay for it. The 1/3 who do use it don't want to pay for curbside like the 2/3 who do. The trash issue continues to be misrepresented to the voters over and over again same as the cutting of fire and police. Those ballot questions don't tell even half of the real story for any of these articles.

A town this size should have curbside - END OF STORY.
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Re: Next step for Merrimack trash

Postby ggkrupp » Fri Apr 15, 2011 5:15 am

John,

I think you raise some very valid points that I, not surprisingly, agree with. The only thing I am still a bit unsure on is the question of whether a good alternative proposal would be defeated by the voters. For someone who only has only experienced a few years of the history on this debate, it is tough to say but it seems to me that Jeannine makes a good point about the ballot questions. The voters have rejected PAYT but it seems that at least some of that negative vote can be attributed to (1) the manner the TC tried to enact it and (2) the belief that there was not a sound business case behind the decision. If either of these points had been handled differently, who knows if the results of the vote would have been the same. That is why I suggest studying the option in "the light of day" so that no reasonable person can say that the study was steered toward some pre-determined solution.

I do think that folks who don't use the TS should be ready to accept the possibility that enough voters in the town are willing to pay the cost of the TS for the convenience as you suggest.

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Re: Next step for Merrimack trash

Postby andysinnh » Fri Apr 15, 2011 7:52 am

I'm one of the people in town who use curbside for my weekly trash, but visit the TS for recycling and also to dispose of larger trash hauls (the infamous basement spring cleaning as an example). For me, I was always a bit ambivalent about PAYT, as I wouldn't have been impacted directly but could see the pros/cons. But to me, the method for disposing of the bulk trash was important to know. I was personally willing to go thru the scales and pay for the weight I dumped, as it was certainly cheaper than getting a dumpster or something similar, if it resulted in a lower tax rate for me. But I know the ability to do this in a rational fashion for the weekly TS users wasn't really going to be fulfilled by a bag-based PAYT. I think that a non-partial, non-partisan (TS vs CS partisanship) committee is the best solution, assuming the TC would embrace the decision that the committee came up with. We'll have to see if this comes to reality or not.

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Re: Next step for Merrimack trash

Postby RBarnes » Fri Apr 15, 2011 9:57 am

John Harrahy wrote:2. The voters disagree with that. 3/4 of voters want the TS as it is. This same question keeps getting asked different ways year in and year out, and the answer is always the same - the voters want the TS, and they're willing to pay for it. It's not the cheapest solution (as others continually point out) but it's the compromise between convenience and cost that the voters want.


I disagree.

Voters disagreed that PAYT was a good option but that's far from saying they like the TS as it is. When the transfer station was voted on in the first place this town was feed what is now been proven false information that there was a million in savings going with the TS over CS.

So the only two votes the town has had to show their feelings is a first one based on lies and incorrect data (which several people have publicly stated if they knew now what they knew then they would have voted differently) and a vote on whether or not they wanted PAYT which a little over 1,000 people said they did not want PAYT as an option. Saying you don't want PAYT as a solution is different then saying you want a high cost government run middleman facility and refuse to consider any other options.

John Harrahy wrote:4. In place of all Tony's options, I propose another one. See if we can give local trash haulers a deal on tipping fees so they'll tip at our TS instead of out of town. I proposed this before and somebody said that's already been looked into, we'd have to offer less than we pay ourselves ($63.95/ton plus transportation) to get anyone to come.


There was a public hearing 2+ years ago about the tipping fees which I attended. The town basically said that when you factor in labor costs, transportation costs and the tipping fees the town costs we would actually lose money if the haulers used our station at the current tipping rates. If we lowered the rates even lower you would be subsidizing their businesses with your local property taxes.

And if the town's tipping rate goes up in 2012 as expected it's going to be even more expensive per ton.

We save money by having local haulers NOT use the station.

John Harrahy wrote:If they really pay less than we do, why don't we look into taking our trash the same place they do? If it turns out that's wrong, that they really pay more, then maybe we can make a deal with them after all.


They pay less then a government facility can charge but that's not saying they pay less as a tipping fee then we do. You have to remember they are going directly to a landfill were our transfer station is a middleman with it's own additional costs added to it. Just because we pay $60 or $70 as our current tipping rate doesn't mean we can charge that amount and break even, you have to add the costs of the union employees working the station, vehicle costs for maintenance and upkeep, fuel costs to transport the waste etc. And if you look up the minutes from the last public hearing you'll see at that time the town said the $110 we charge would cost us money when you add up the cost per ton of everything associated with the station. Since the line items in the budget have not gone down significantly I don't see that having changed.

John Harrahy wrote:5. To be able to decide what's really best, we need real data. I agree with Gary Krupp, that we need to know how many tons of trash the TS actually gets per month, how much we actually pay to dispose of that trash, how many tons of recyclables does the RC take in per month, and how much do we actually get paid for it? And I'd like to add two more - how many people actually use the TS per month? How many use the RC per month? It seems we have to ask the TC to direct the TS/RC management to collect this data. Is this as simple as going to the next TC meeting, asking them to have this data collected, published and graphed for trends? If so, let's do it!


For the first year or two the station was open this data was being collected (not sure about the visitors per month though) because Norm and others posted it here on the forum.

I agree fully with you that this data should be looked at again and additional details if necessary should be collected and analyzed.

John Harrahy wrote:6. People say (again with no supporting data) that a lot of the trash the TS handles really includes a lot of recyclables. The Town's PAYT presentation assumed 50% of what's tipped as trash now is actually recyclable. To find out, we'd have to actually examine enough of the trash to get a significant sample size.


There is a video the town put up on YouTube just prior to the PAYT vote where they took a sample of a random bag from the transfer station floor and opened it and divided it out between real trash and recyclables. In the video the bag started around 10 pounds. When all the recyclables were removed it was down to around 2 pounds of actual trash.

Granted that's just 1 bag so it's far from being a scientific study but if one bag is 80% recyclable then would saying 50% total trash is recyclable really be that unreasonable to believe? The video was posted on this forum as well.

John Harrahy wrote:Based on this data, a town-wide education campaign should be mounted, telling everyone how much recyclable stuff gets trashed now, and how much money the Town could save by increasing recyling/reducing trash by a particular percentace. The savings should be stated in terms of cents on the tax rate, so everyone will appreciate it.


Again I fully agree.
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