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Recent improvements at the transfer station, such as the horizontal brush grinder, pictured, were cited as reasons Durham and Middlefield residents will pay a higher sticker fee to use the station. | Mark Dionne / Town Times
DMIAAB workers sell new stickers to residents as they arrive at the transfer station. | Mark Dionne / Town Times

Transfer station fees raised

The Durham-Middlefield Interlocal Agreement Advisory Board will raise the price of the transfer station stickers from $20 to $30.

The increase has already gone into effect and all vehicles using the transfer station must have new stickers by Nov. 1.

According to a DMIAAB press release, the increase is necessary because of declining revenue from the recyclable market, to pay for infrastructure improvements, and to prevent the burden from being shifted to the tax base of Durham and Middlefield.

DMIAAB considered options other than a higher sticker fee. According to a press release, “Over the past year, DMIAAB has evaluated the use of Pay As You Throw (PAYT) and has determined that the flat fee is more appropriate for our users at this time. The yearly $30 fee translates to less than 60 cents per week, whereas PAYT typically carries a charge per visit or per bag, usually significantly greater than 60 cents.”

Durham and Middlefield also provide funds to DMIAAB in their yearly budgets. According to DMIAAB Task Force member Dominic DelVecchio, each town’s burden is determined by population figures published on July 1.

For the fiscal year 2014-15, Durham has allocated $324,975 with Middlefield spending $194,736 for DMIAAB. Those figures are unchanged from fiscal year 2013-14. In fiscal year 2012-13, Durham allocated $302,721 and Middlefield $181,091 to DMIAAB.

In Durham, there was an initial request for the town’s contribution to raise to $341,257 for 2014-15 but the burden was shifted to sticker fees instead.

As a regional entity, DMIAAB runs its own budget with revenue streams that include the towns. “Because DMIAAB is not a department of the town, the funding works more like a grant,” said Mary Jane Malavasi, Durham’s finance director.

In addition to town money and sticker fees, the DMIAAB receives revenue by selling the collected paper, glass, and plastic recyclables. The deflation of the recyclable market has shifted some of the financial burden elsewhere.

According to the DMIAAB, a ton of recyclables from the transfer station once brought in more than $30. With the market weakening, some towns now receive nothing for their recyclables. The DMIAAB said that continuing to separate paper and plastic allows them to sell for $10 per ton of recyclables.

“It costs $63 per ton to dispose of trash, compared to the $10 per ton that DMIAAB receives if that garbage is disposed of as recyclables, for a diversion savings of $73 per ton.”

In addition to the immediate financial and environmental benefits, recycling is also being pushed by state goals. According to the DMIAAB, the state has set a recycling goal of 58 percent by 2024.

The infrastructure improvements cited by the DMIAAB have already been made at the transfer station, including a new scale for bulk and demolition items and a horizontal brush grinder.

The brush grinder, called “The Beast,” can handle more brush safely and more efficiently than the previous machinery.

The scale also altered the revenue stream when it was installed. Instead of an estimated or skipped fee for brush, bulk, and demolition items, the scale forces businesses and household users to pay depending on their use for those items.

Workers at the transfer station on Aug. 18 refused to comment on the public reception of increased fees.

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