THROUGHPUT FOR THE TRANSFER STATION

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My Question...

Postby Michael Thompson » Fri Feb 20, 2004 9:08 am

Why can't we make the TS work?

So many people are out to kill it rather then try to work with it. The town has put money into it so lets try to make it work. (and before you state that I must of voted for it, I wasn't a resident of the town at the time so I'm just trying to see all possible ways before we waste the money)

The PAYT can work and does work in may communities. If MMK charges 1.00 per bag but the cost are really .90 the the other monies can be use for other forms of government or for tax reimbursment.

This would eliminate the need for tipping fees other then the construction trash or other items that can't be baged.

The point brought up about trash the inconvience of having to purchase the bags. I believe everyone has to purchase them now so what is the inconvinence?

This brings up the point of Condo owners, this would elimanate the issue at hand. If you decided to pay WM and they hauled it out of town then you wouldn't have to use the bags and only pay for the service.

CS should be happy with this method also.

I also believe that there is a way to charge the CS if they do bring in bags that aren't the right ones.

This could work and we should try it before closing the TS. I will try to find a town similar in size that does a PAYT system and see how it works for them.
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Re: My Question...

Postby RBarnes » Fri Feb 20, 2004 10:04 am

gizzel1013 wrote:Why can't we make the TS work?


When something has a negative impact on people in this town, cost more then other options and only serves less then 1/3 of the town my question is why go out of our way to even try to make it work?

gizzel1013 wrote:So many people are out to kill it rather then try to work with it.


There's no real effort being made to kill it, it's self-destructing of its own power. The haulers claimed before the vote they would support the station regardless of the tipping fee. If you look at town meeting minutes they even said they would use it with tipping fees reaching higher amounts they are currently set at. And here were are with them going elsewhere despite what they stood before the town and claimed. To get them to use it we would have to lower the tipping fees, which in turn would only raise our taxes to support their businesses, do you think that is a good option? The condo owners who were told they would be double charged are now arguing ways to lower their taxes.

So we are left with condos and people hiring haulers being forced to pay taxes for a facility they get ZERO benefits from. To get around that we would have to go with PAYT. Which leads me to your comment...

gizzel1013 wrote:The PAYT can work and does work in may communities. If MMK charges 1.00 per bag but the cost are really .90 the the other monies can be use for other forms of government or for tax reimbursment.


Based on the numbers we've already seen coming into the facility for January which Norm posted at the beginning of this thread we would have to collect just shy of $5 per car. When you can get full service curbside starting at $6.80 who would be willing to haul their own trash taking time every week just to save 2 bucks? I currently self haul but the minute this town starts charging a PAYT rate I'm hiring WM. And with less people self-hauling the town would once again have to make up the operational costs from somewhere else.

gizzel1013 wrote:This would eliminate the need for tipping fees other then the construction trash or other items that can't be baged.


As for people who hire haulers, who's going to pay for bags on top of what they already pay their hauler when there will still be haulers going directly out of town?

gizzel1013 wrote:I also believe that there is a way to charge the CS if they do bring in bags that aren't the right ones.


How? Hiring trash police to monitor the haulers would only help increase the already high costs.

gizzel1013 wrote:This could work and we should try it before closing the TS. I will try to find a town similar in size that does a PAYT system and see how it works for them.


Gizzel, this station is failing of it's own power. Those of us against it are only pointing out it's failures. Although I did speak at the public hearing in which tipping fees were said (merely suggesting the haulers pay their fair per ton share of the costs) I did not force them not to use it. If PAYT goes up for a vote in this town I will support it and vote for it but I do not see it as the saving grace for this station.

I just question WHY should we struggle and spend additional money trying to make a middleman operation work when we do have better and more importantly cheaper options?

Look at it this way, if you buy a car and realize after the first couple months the car is costing you $600 a month to run would you try to make the car work when you have options for cars that cost you only $50 a month to run? Or would you cut your up front losses and look for the option that saves you the most money in the long run?

Also for the record I am not aware of any warrant articles going up this year for town wide curbside so we are going to have this station for at least a year and a half. If we were trying to kill it and not giving it a chance to vote then curbside would be put to a vote this year.

An option was suggested prior that would have benefited both the haulers and those against the station, which was for the haulers to split up the town amongst themselves. It would have been the best of both worlds. They out right LIED saying they could NEVER take the trash directly out of town as it would be far too expensive yet here they are doing just that. And then they have the nerve to turn around and claim the town turned its back on them because we aren’t putting MORE of the cost on people’s taxes and giving their businesses a free ride. Explain to me how anyone can support them after that?
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Postby Norman Phillips » Fri Feb 20, 2004 10:33 am

Gizzel, thank you for your posting. Rick Barnes however is correct in much of what he posted just now. It is just not possible for the Town to bring the local haulers back in without subsidizing them. As Mark has pointed out, the business entities that own the disposal sites are powerful enough so they can adjust their tipping prices at will.

You did write
I also believe that there is a way to charge the CS if they do bring in bags that aren't the right ones.
The solution for this is to simply weigh all trash brought in by commercial haulers, whether it is in bags or not, as is done now at the existing scale house. But the problem is that we will not get them back without subsidizing them.

The mechanics of PAYT was discussed quite a bit by the original Solid Waste Advisory Committee. Their report is no longer on the Town website, but a copy should be made available to you at Town Hall.

The minutes of the original SWAC are at
http://www.ci.merrimack.nh.us/onlineser ... acmins.htm

In a brief scan I noticed the following comment near the end of the minutes of their December 13 2002 meeting:

Mr. Worster noted that in continuing the existing level of service he visualizes a transfer station so that the town has control over its own destiny.

:? :? :?

And Mr. Worster was one of the most knowledgable people on the original SWAC, and was in fact selected as a member of the Ad Hoc Committee on Solid Waste for his general knowledge and experience. Of course at that time it was understood that the local haulers simply would not be able to go out of town.
Sincerely, Norm Phillips
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Re: THROUGHPUT FOR THE TRANSFER STATION

Postby RBarnes » Fri Feb 20, 2004 11:04 am

Norman Phillips wrote:Last Wednesday Ed Chase, Director of DPW, supplied me with the following statistics on the trash that passed through the TS in January.
*****************************************
Total Tonnage: 526 tons (includes MSW and C&D)
Commercial : 147 tons " " "
=========
Residential: 379 tons (MSW)

Approximately 15,725 vehicles were recorded over the car counter

(379 tons)(2000 lbs./ton)
--------------------------------- = 48.2 lbs. per vehicle (ave.)
15725 vehicles
**********************************

( The unweighed "Residential" ( known locally as "self-hauled" :D ) of 379 is obtained by subtracting the weighed input of "Commercial" from the weighed output of "Total Tonnage". )
Buckley has said that he will also take his trash to Bow as soon as he gets a Commercial Driver's License. In the past he has picked up about 1000 tons in a year.

Multiplying the 379 by ( 50 / 5 ) ( to allow for the 5 Saturdays in Jan. 2004 ) predicts a total of 3790 tons of self-hauled trash.

The remaining commercial tonnage would be 52/5 X 147 = 1529 tons. subtracting 800 of Buckley's tonnage leaves 729 tons of commercial trash. C&D ( Construction and Demolition ) trash may increase in the summer time.

We are ending up with a prediction of 3790 + 729 or about 4500 tons of trash throughput in the calendar year 2004.


Norm, after giving the yearly projection numbers a little more thought I think basing them on Januarys numbers alone would cause us to fall short. Let me explain why...

First off a lot of people made a point to dump as much as they could before the landfill closed since as of Jan 1st we pay by the pound. Secondly Jan was very cold so I think a lot of people held off going to the station until it got warmer. And lastly as it warms up you get more and more people doing spring-cleaning and getting rid of their old junk, this would generate a lot more trash.

Unfortunately since this would all be trash coming from self-haulers it will cost us more since there will be no revenue attached with it. Our only hope is that with the warmer weather more contractors will bring trash to the station, which would generate some revenue.

I doubt the increase in self haul trash would be major so I wouldn't double the total amount but for the couple really warm months in the summer when people would be most likely to spring clear I would think the monthly amount could double from what we've seen in January. My guess is based on what we know so far I think a total amount of a little over 6000 tons would be a reasonable guess.
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Postby Mark Fitzgerald » Fri Feb 20, 2004 11:25 am

Gizzel,

The quandry is..............

You can't make the TS "work" without subsidizing the market with taxpayer money and thereby inflating everyone's total costs.

This goes back to the old argument concerning what's on the tax base and what's spent in the private sector. TS supporters long argued that these are seperate entities and should not be considered when discussing costs. CS supporters argued that they must both be considered since the TS funding (and viability) is DEPENDENT upon the private sector spending. From a purely realistic perspective, if you ignore the cost of getting the waste to any TS, you automatically invoke the Dennis King Theory of Flying Waste, where the trash you generate at your house sprouts wings and flies itself to the TS.

When someone takes the position that "all that matters is what we spend in taxes", they are literally living in a dream world of their own making. Not only does it ignore the fact that 65% of the costs for waste disposal in MMK takes place outside of the tax base, it ignores the fact that what IS spent on the tax base is directly impacted by what's spent in the private sector. If MMK cannot operate a TS for less than the private facilities which surround it in all four directions, then it should not TRY to operate one at all just so it can say it has one.
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Postby Mark Fitzgerald » Fri Feb 20, 2004 11:42 am

One last point Gizzel. When you evaluate the total costs of what's happening today vs. CS, you find you would recover the capital costs of the TS within the timeframe of the first CS contract.

If at the end of 2004 MMK finds it has collected less than 6000 tons, any further funding of that facility should be seen by the taxpayers as "good money after bad" and institute the novel idea of a municipal program that equitably serves all taxpayers. What an idea!!!
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Re: My Question...

Postby Wayne » Fri Feb 20, 2004 12:15 pm

gizzel1013 wrote:Why can't we make the TS work?

So many people are out to kill it rather then try to work with it. The town has put money into it so lets try to make it work. (and before you state that I must of voted for it, I wasn't a resident of the town at the time so I'm just trying to see all possible ways before we waste the money)

The PAYT can work and does work in may communities.

I think that the TS could work, but only when PAYT is included. Even assuming the $200/ton total disposal cost, that's a penny a pound. I didn't hear what the average bag weighs, but if it was as high as 20 lb then the PAYT price would be $2.00/bag. Many homeowners probably don't exceed a single bag/week and may still be willing to self-haul at that price. (I only generate a single bag, but I still hire a hauler, just for the CONVENIENCE.)

With any other funding mechanism, 2/3 of the taxpayers get screwed. Either it all goes on the tax bill and 2/3 pay for something they don't use, or we lower the tipping fees for local haulers so they come back, but now we'll lose even more money that has to be made up in some other way, IE, taxes.

So most, but not all, people proclaim that PAYT is our answer. The problem is that PAYT was voted down when it was last presented, and it's entirely appropriate to listen to the will of the voters, just as for their decision to build the TS. Believing people have now seen the light, we could plan on putting PAYT to a vote again, but that can't happen for another 12 months, and what do we do in the meantime? And how do we know that voters won't inexplicably turn it down again?

This is indeed a problem without a simple answer, but definitely needs to be addressed. It's still the people's decision, and can't be changed without a special town meeting, and we're still a long way from going for something like that.
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questions

Postby Michael Thompson » Fri Feb 20, 2004 12:32 pm

Rick,

In order for the Town of Merrimack to do a PAYT system they would have to put it up for a vote? :x Am I hearing you right?

Mark, if it where to go to a PAYT system I believe that all Taxes would be eliminated from the budget since it should be either a non profit or nearly no profit system.

Regarding PAYT, I think this is the most equitable solution from everyone. If you are a single person you will make less trash then a family of three. I feel that CS isn't equitable but as everyone is stating will save money from what we are doing now. I am all for saving money, and you stated that the cost would be returned in the first contract. I would like to see the cost for the TS to make a informed decision.

I'm still for trying the PAYT, although if it has to go up for vote then maybe we would have to put the PAYT verse the CS.
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Postby Wayne » Fri Feb 20, 2004 12:46 pm

Yes, PAYT requires voter approval.

I fully agree that our waste disposal should be self-funding, just as town water is pay-as-you-drink, and the sewerage is pay-as-you-flush.
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Re: questions

Postby Ann Goldman » Fri Feb 20, 2004 1:10 pm

Rick,

In order for the Town of Merrimack to do a PAYT system they would have to put it up for a vote? :x Am I hearing you right?

Hi Gizzel,

With the exception of Nat, all the other TS proponents were solidly against any form of PAYT.

I believe that CS should also use a form of PAYT to discourage everyone's "throwaway" mentality. We need to become more accountable for our actions and habits.

Annie
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Re: questions

Postby RBarnes » Fri Feb 20, 2004 1:22 pm

gizzel1013 wrote:In order for the Town of Merrimack to do a PAYT system they would have to put it up for a vote? :x Am I hearing you right?


Correct, and last time it went up for a vote it was voted down by the voters.

gizzel1013 wrote:Mark, if it where to go to a PAYT system I believe that all Taxes would be eliminated from the budget since it should be either a non profit or nearly no profit system.


If it were a nearly no profit system the operational costs would still need to come from somewhere. PAYT will only work if they can collect enough to cover the expenses. Saying people no longer see a value in self hauling and the amount using the facility drops too much we are left once again having to each charge even more of the self haulers (which after a while it will actually raise the cost of self hauling above what it would cost to hire a hauler) or look once again to subsidize with taxes.

gizzel1013 wrote: would like to see the cost for the TS to make a informed decision.


According to Ed Chase we pay just about $90 per ton for every ton of waste dumped at that facility. Dick Hinch in a BOS meeting stated this cost would go up every year or two.

On top of that we have operational costs, which we figure to be around $500,000 to $600,000. If they cut back the amount of hours the station is open (which I believe the BOS can do without a town vote) they can cut back the operational expenses.

So figuring if we take in 4500 to 6000 tons the total cost of just the station will be about 1 million. Considering that only about a third of the town see any "benefit" (and I use that term very loosely) and then saying the other roughly 6000 homes in Merrimack spend at minimum $300 for a hauler that’s another 1.8 million spent on solid waste. Now consider we could have had full town curbside for 1.8 million it is clear which is the better option.
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Postby Tom Williams » Fri Feb 20, 2004 1:30 pm

I agree that PAYT would be better than the current situation, but as I said previously, it doesn’t solve the problem we are debating.

I took the annual solid waste budget of $2,400,000 from a post on this forum (someone please correct this if it wrong), and the projected annual trash flow of 4,519 tons from Norm Phillips post below. Using these two data, I calculate the actual cost to the town (i.e., the taxpayers) to be $531/ton. (The hauling firms who don’t use the TS are irrelevant to the PAYT discussion.) Assuming that self-haulers make 1 trip per week to the TS, then they will have to buy more than $10 worth of PAYT bags for each trip. This means to make the TS self sustaining, they will have to pay almost double what curbsiders are presently paying.

This is how I conclude that PAYT may help, but will not solve the problem. If the PAYT bag price is set high enough to cover the transfer station cost, it will result in no one using the TS; a rapid death spiral. If it is set at an arbitrary “affordable” price, then the unfair tax subsidy of a minority of the Town by the majority continues.

Has the deadline to put forth an election item to kill this millstone already passed? I can see no way to construct a financial justification for the present situation over townwide curbside, even if we wait for the numbers to “settle out” as some propose. The longer we wait, the more of our tax dollars are flushed away.
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Postby RBarnes » Fri Feb 20, 2004 1:47 pm

Tom Williams wrote:I took the annual solid waste budget of $2,400,000 form a post on this forum (someone please correct this if it wrong), and the projected annual trash flow of 4,519 tons from Norm Phillips post below.


Tom, the 2.4 million was the original estimate, which was later lowered down to 2.24 million. This would be based on the town taking in 12,000 tons of waste. Since it is now becoming clear we'll only be taking in about 4500 tons I'm guessing the total annual solid waste budget to drop to about 1 million. This is only because two thirds of the towns trash already leaves directly out of town.

Tom Williams wrote:Assuming that self-haulers make 1 trip per week to the TS, then they will have to buy more than $10 worth of PAYT bags for each trip. This means to make the TS self sustaining, they will have to pay almost double what curbsiders are presently paying.


Not quite, it would average out to be about a penny a pound for PAYT saying the trash rate doesn't drop lower. Based on Norms calculation of average weight per car we'd have to collect about $5 per car. Since the current going rate for curbside is about $6+ there really isn't any savings.

Tom Williams wrote:This is how I conclude that PAYT may help, but will not solve the problem. If the PAYT bag price is set high enough to cover the transfer station cost, it will result in no one using the TS; a rapid death spiral. If it is set at an arbitrary “affordable” price, then the unfair tax subsidy of a minority of the Town by the majority continues.


Bingo! There is no winning situation with the transfer station.

Tom Williams wrote:Has the deadline to put forth an election item to kill this millstone already passed? I can see no way to construct a financial justification for the present situation over townwide curbside, even if we wait for the numbers to “settle out” as some propose. The longer we wait, the more of our tax dollars are flushed away.


I'm not sure if the deadline has passed or not but based on the misinformation that people were confused by before the only sure way for curbside to pass is to allow people to see a full years worth of real numbers. The more they learn about this station and see with their own eyes in the town budget etc the harder it will be for anyone to actually defend it.
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Postby Tom Williams » Fri Feb 20, 2004 2:13 pm

Rick, thanks for the corrections.

I correct the annual cost as follows:
  • $2,250,000 budget is based on 18,500 tons.
  • I have a copy of the $2.4mm budget, which includes $1,515,000 for hauling and tipping (I believe the reduction from 2.4 to 2.25 was made in other areas).
  • For a trash flow of 4,519 tons, this portion of the budget would be about $370,000.
  • So the annual cost would become $1,105,000.

Another correction: I assumed 1 ton per year per self hauler. Upon closer scrutiny of Norm’s post, it appears that 1.25 tons is more accurate (48 lbs/wk x 52 weeks / 2000 lbs/ton).

So, I correct my estimated cost of PAYT bags for self haulers to $5.88 / week ($305 / year).

At this rate, it may be sustainable. If the self haulers would do this and get their trash disposal off of my tax bill, then I would be satisfied to continue with my current privately contracted curbside service, even though I know both of us would pay less with townwide curbside.
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Postby Norman Phillips » Fri Feb 20, 2004 2:45 pm

We must keep in mind that the Town is obligated to supply a means for all residents to get rid of solid waste. And, since business waste cannot be easily distinguished from residential waste in any practical manner, the Town must also consider being able to handle business waste generated in Merrimack.

Hence the Town has budgeted as if the most severe loads were put on the TS. This will not adversely impact taxes however, since before the Merrimack tax rate is set by the Department of Revenue Administration in the early fall, the Town gets to tell DRA how much it spent in the past fiscal year, and how much REVENUE it received.

In the case of SW, the 2004-2005 REVENUE budget assumes that 11,000 tons of tipping fees at $110/ton were received. ( 11,000 equals 18,500 minus the assumed 7500 tons of self-hauled trash.) If the throughput is less than 18,500, then the revenue will also be smaller by the corresponding amount.

Hence the largish figure of 2+million for the SW budget will not adversely affect the tax rate beyond the "legitimate" SW expenses.

The one caution is that the Town should not expend to the formal bottom line of the budget, since that bottom line contains the inflated SW "appropriations" . And those appropriations will not be offset by corresponding revenue if they are not matched by SW tipping fee revenues.

Of course we are now seeing data that suggests that the assumed tonnages were very conservative. I repeat-----That conservative inflation will not impact the tax rate, however.
Sincerely, Norm Phillips
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