April 20, 2011
Town Gets Waste Management Update
By Emily Toy
Southampton Town Board members sat down with Chris Koehler of Camp Dresser & McKee Friday afternoon for an update on the town's solid waste management plan.
The presentation showed the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's Beyond Waste Strategy that was approved in December 2010.
The strategy encourages people to reduce, reuse, and recycle and builds upon the emphasis of "pay as you throw." Public education about these issues is also a huge aspect of the strategy.
"I'm looking forward to a raised awareness in recycling," said Councilman Jim Malone. "It's a question of public awareness and changing habits."
Currently, Southampton operates four transfer stations. They are located in Sag Harbor, North Sea, Hampton Bays and Westhampton. The larger stations, North Sea and Hampton Bays, are open everyday from 8 AM to 4 PM. Sag Harbor and Westhampton are closed Wednesdays, but otherwise operate during the same hours.
The transfer stations are responsible for handling 15 percent of the waste produced by Southampton Town. The other 85 percent is handled by private carters providing curbside collection. "The good news is that the transfer stations are working efficiently," said Councilman Chris Nuzzi.
Sag Harbor and Westhampton transfer stations have an over 50 percent recycling rate, Hampton Bays has a 46 percent recycling rate and North Sea has a 30 percent recycling rate. The transfer stations handle a total of 9,098 tons of municipal solid waste (waste that includes residential trash and recyclable materials, but not bulk items).
East Hampton taxpayers pay an annual resident permit, while Southampton residents are able to pay as they go.
"That's something Southampton town has enjoyed for a while," Malone said. "Residents really appreciate that choice."
According to the presentation, transfer stations generated $717,906 of revenue. Those green bags necessary to throw out garbage in Southampton Town generated over $800,000 alone. Fees collected came to about $516,000. Intra-department charge backs equaled out to $659,015 while other revenues and aid computed to $304,974. Total revenue generated by Southampton transfer stations, according to the presentation, equaled to about $2.2 million.
"The financial incentive with the 'pay as you throw' does work," said Koehler, who has been working on this proposal with CDM and the town board since September of last year.
As far as expenses go for the transfer stations, employee salaries and benefits equaled to about $725,000 while tipping fees, fuel and other expenses equaled to about $843,000. Total expenses for town transfer stations equaled to just over $1.5 million.
The town is essentially breaking even on operating solid waste transfer stations.
"I'm encouraged to see that the transfer stations are not in the red," Malone said.
Total solid waste costs range between $18 million and $21 million. Most of that comes from the cost of the private sector operations. The average cost to use private carters ranges from $43 to $60 a month, according to the presentation.
During the presentation, Koehler explained four alternatives to the town board to make waste management for Southampton better.
The first alternative would be to not change anything. The second alternative would involve ceasing all transfer station operations and the formation of solid waste districts. In this scenario, the districts would be managed by one solid waste department. Each district would publicly bid on the collection and disposal services for all public and private waste needs. A curbside collection contract would be put into place between every household, public building and public space. With the transfer stations closed, residents would pay for trash disposal through a separate line on their tax bills.
Nuzzi, who also serves as the town's waste management liaison, said that it would take a lot of convincing to add a resident tax bill for garbage districts.
Alternative three would include the transfer stations operating for municipal use only. This would have waste from public buildings and areas brought to transfer stations, while the public would have to contract with a private carter. In that case, the cost for self haulers could increase, Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst pointed out. Alternative four would aim to optimize the status quo. Further studies would be done on how things are operation now to make it an ideal set up for everyone.