The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 13, 2009

New trash contract offers lower rates

Seven years ago Carlisle’s solid waste disposal charges, at $145 per ton, were among the highest in the country. Today’s fees are half as high and will stay below $75 per ton into 2015, if Town Meeting approves a new six-year contract with Wheelabrator North Andover Inc. The town annually delivers about 1,900 tons to the incinerator, which burns trash to generate electricity. (The town recycles another 1,100 tons of trash each year.)

Carlisle was instrumental in the creation of the incinerator in the 1980s, along with about two dozen other towns in the North East Solid Waste Committee (NESWC) consortium. Rates and guaranteed annual tonnage were fixed in a long-term contract with Wheelabrator. The consortium held 48% ownership in the incinerator and in 1999 helped pay for a $35 million pollution control retrofit. As the years passed, the rates proved to be significantly above regional open-market prices for waste disposal.

In 2005 Wheelabrator assumed complete ownership of the facility and the communities negotiated new contracts at much more favorable rates. Beginning at $64 per ton in 2005, the rate has risen a few dollars each year and is now $71.50 per ton. Since 2005 there have been no minimum or maximum tonnage requirements. The new proposal is written as an amendment to the current contract, which expires June 30, 2010.

The rate set for FY10 under the current contract is $73 per ton; however, the new agreement offers a reduction to $64 per ton. Rates will rise two dollars per year, as shown in the table

A dozen communities from the original consortium are participating in the agreement, including Arlington, Belmont, Boxborough, Hamilton, Lincoln, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Peabody, Watertown, Wenham, West Newbury and Winchester.

Town Administrator Madonna McKenzie said that many of the other, mostly larger, NESWC communities had chosen earlier to negotiate separately, seeking a five-year contract with an option for an additional five years. The group signed with Covanta in Haverhill, for a price of $68 per ton in FY10, rising $2 per ton per year. Wheelabrator had offered them a higher rate starting at $69 per ton. McKenzie noted that in this case, the smaller towns got the best deal. ∆

© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito