The Town of Marion has taken further steps toward waste disposal autonomy, Marion Town Administrator Jay McGrail told the Board of Selectmen on October 1.
As Marion heads into its fall Special Town Meeting later this month, McGrail said he went ahead and solicited some quotes from various waste disposal companies like Covanta (SEMASS) and the Town of Bourne’s integrated solid waste management facility. The article slated for the warrant to allow preliminary negotiations to withdraw is the “first of two votes” the town needs to withdraw from the Carver, Marion, Wareham Regional Refuse Disposal District, of which Marion has been a member since the district’s conception in 1973.
Voters would later need to vote again to accept the terms stated in an amendment to the district agreement that would allow Marion to leave.
As the December 31, 2020 expiration of the district’s contract with SEMASS approaches, the district has struggled to determine the future of its waste disposal once SEMASS ceases accepting the trash at no cost and no longer reimburses the district for the costs associated with running the district’s two transfer stations. McGrail said during a selectmen’s meeting earlier this month that he saw little to no benefit in remaining in the district beyond that point, especially given that Marion, unlike Carver and Wareham, provides residents with curbside trash and recycling collection.
During the October 1 meeting, McGrail found another reason to question the benefits of staying in the CMWRRDD.
“Given the unknowns with the district,” McGrail said, “…We need to know where we’re going to send our trash come January 2021.”
McGrail said he received two quotes from Covanta and Bourne and then met with representatives from both companies.
Bourne’s offer was “more complicated,” said McGrail, since its permitting is still uncertain for a planned expansion of its facilities. Bourne could only commit to a short-term agreement, McGrail said, at $85 per ton of solid waste.
Covanta offered the town $77.50 per ton for the first year of a five-year contract, with a 2.5 percent escalator each year.
“Given the industry right now and the different potential road block in the future as far as trash goes,” said McGrail, “I think it would be in the best interest of the board to sign this agreement (with Covanta).”
McGrail said that agreement would include an appropriation clause if the town was unable to fund the agreement for any reason, but the price would be guaranteed if the town were to move forward.
“Tonnage price of trash is not going to go down,” said McGrail. But if the price of trash disposal does go suddenly soar, he said, “If that happens, we’ve locked in at $77.50 a ton.”
McGrail said he thought that it might be a benefit to remain with the district as a way to preserve purchasing power when seeking bids, but that theory was disproved. As it turns out, Covanta offered the same exact quote of $77.50 to the district as it did to the Town of Marion.
“If we do part ways (from the district), we still are contracted directly with Covanta for the remainder of the [contact],” McGrail told the selectmen.
Also during the meeting, McGrail proposed hiring an assistant director to assist the director of the Department of Public Works. According to McGrail, the long list of capital projects totaling a near $20 million could potentially occupy DPW Director David Willet long-term, leaving him little time to oversee the day-to-day operations of the department. Having someone between Willet and the foremen position, McGrail said, would allow Willet to perform the high-level engineering and project management the board wants him to do.
“Work out the details and the money portion of it and get back to us,” said Parker.
In other business, McGrail told the board that talks with Police Chief John Garcia have led to the relocation of the digital speeding sign to Front Street near the Marion Music Hall. The sign will face traffic entering the village from Route 6 to hopefully reduce speeding.
“The chief thinks that the sign has really made an impact on Spring Street with Tabor,” McGrail said, “…and would do the same thing in the heart of the village right there.”
McGrail announced that there would be an informational meeting ahead of the Special Town Meeting for residents on Wednesday, October 16 at 6:00 pm at the Marion Music Hall.
The Fall Special Town Meeting is scheduled for Monday, October 21 at 6:30 pm at Sippican School.
The Marion Board of Selectmen will meet again for a workshop pertaining to a new personnel policy on Wednesday, October 9 at 9:00 am at the Marion Town House.
The next regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen is scheduled for October 15 at 7:00 pm at the Marion Town House.
Marion Board of Selectmen
By Jean Perry