Friday, December 2, 2005
Town's costs drop as new trash contract starts
For two decades, Carlisle held membership in the North East Solid Waste Committee (NESWC), a consortium of area towns that had the dubious honor of paying some of the highest waste disposal costs in the nation. Under Carlisle's new contract, which was approved by Town Meeting in the fall of 2003, Carlisle will continue to haul solid waste to the incinerator operated by Wheelabrator North Andover, Inc., but the rates will be significantly lower, and there will be no guaranteed tonnage requirement as there had been in the past. In 2002 Carlisle paid an average of $145 per ton. The new waste disposal contract began on September 26 and is scheduled to run through June 30 of 2010.
According to Andy Bridges, NESWC executive director, the market rate now paid by private haulers is about $866 per ton.
NESWC was instrumental in the creation of the North Andover waste incinerator in the 1980s, which burns trash to generate electricity. In return for paying to build and maintain the facility, the consortium planned to secure a waste disposal site and hoped to earn money from the sale of the electricity produced. At the end of the old contract, ownership of the plant and liability reverted to Wheelabrator. Landfills were closing, energy prices were rising and the long-term contracts NESWC negotiated seemed financially reasonable at the time.However a variety of factors, including lower-than-expected energy costs, higher-than-expected costs of operating the incinerator due to new pollution control regulations, and reduced trash tonnage as recycling gained popularity inflated the consortium's costs in comparison to other communities. Towns in NESWC include: Acton, Andover, Arlington, Bedford, Belmont, Boxborough, Burlington, Carlisle, Dracut, Hamilton, Lexington, Lincoln, Manchester-by-the-Sea, North Andover, North Reading, Peabody, Tewksbury, Watertown, Wenham, Westford, West Newbury, Wilmington and Winchester.
According to Town Administrator Madonna McKenzie, NESWC is expected to formally dissolve by the end of FY06, once all bookkeeping details have been completed. These details include any outstanding bills as well as final receipts for electricity sales, disbursements from the NESWC Tip Fee Stabilization Fund, or payments from the state's Technology Fund. To date Carlisle has received roughly $110,000 in such payments during FY06, and McKenzie said that a final payment of between $100,000 to $140,000 is expected later this fiscal year.
McKenzie said that the consortium of towns was able to negotiate the current, more favorable, contract rates partly due to their strength in numbers. When asked why, then, was NESWC disbanding, she said it was probably a cost-savings measure, to eliminate the overhead of the consortium's staff.
© 2005 The