Trash District Option Could Prevent a Marion ‘Mexit’

            The Carver Marion Wareham Regional Refuse Disposal District will continue on in some form, board members made clear at the most recent meeting on November 20. The question members are facing now is, exactly what will the district look like?

            “Stop calling it a dissolution,” said board member and Marion Selectman Norm Hills. “There will still be something here come 2021 – whatever it is, but the district won’t be entirely gone.”

            In fact, Carver, Marion, and Wareham will remain tied together for at least a little while, according to the district’s attorney Thomas Crotty.

            Crotty explained that, according to the current agreement, each town would remain responsible for ongoing liabilities, even if one or more of the towns should withdraw from the district.

            The district is slated to take over two transfer stations – Benson Brook in Marion and the Route 28 transfer station in Rochester – beginning on January 1 of 2021, when SEMASS/Covanta financially exits the sites.

            After reviewing different paths forward at the board members’ request, Crotty recommended amending the current agreement and creating a ‘skeletal’ district as the simplest and quickest path forward.

            A skeletal district, simply put, means that the district would cease to manage either the Benson Brook or the Rochester transfer station. Instead, it would be reduced to acting as an executive secretary and treasurer: collecting bills, keeping the books, and assessing costs back to each town on a regular basis.

            According to the language of the agreement, approved in the 1970s, amendments can be added if voters at each town’s Town Meeting approve them. The amendments, Crotty suggested, could allow for several possibilities. Among them are allowing certain towns to take over the management of individual transfer stations, providing a formula for cost allocations to each town, and drafting specific language for a town seeking withdrawal from the district. 

            That last amendment suggestion caught the ears of Marion representatives, as it would provide a clear path forward for withdrawal, as well as define Marion’s responsibilities concerning ongoing liabilities.

            Town Meeting voters of Marion recently voted in favor of a ‘Mexit’ from the CMWRRDD, and the Town of Marion recently filed a formal notice of withdrawal from the district with its objection to a decision to close the Benson Brook station in 2021.

            “If a skeletal district is what we decide to do, I don’t think Marion will pursue withdrawal,” said Marion Town Administrator Jay McGrail. He noted a possible amendment to the current agreement, allocating sole responsibility for the management of Benson Brook to the Town of Marion.

            “If there is an agreement to keep Benson Brook open, we need to know as soon as possible to inform our decisions,” added Marion Selectman John Waterman, who attended the meeting as a non-CMWRRDD board member.

            As the amendments would only need to be ratified by a town vote, Crotty said this path would also be the quickest. “If we move now, we could have an amendment on the agenda for spring town meetings. Any other agreement we try to make for these ongoing liabilities is going to require special legislation, and that will take years.”

            Carver and Wareham representatives agreed to take the options to their respective selectmen, but the lack of any visible progress frustrated some board members.

            “A year ago, we were talking about what we needed to do; we’re still talking about it,” said Hills. “2021 is approaching quickly and we need a path to go forward. All we’re doing here is rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.”

            The next meeting of the Carver, Marion, Wareham Regional Refuse Disposal District has not yet been scheduled.

Carver, Marion, Wareham Regional Refuse Disposal District

By Andrea Ray

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