DOVER - At a sparsely attended special Town Meeting on Friday, voters rejected a proposal to withdraw from the Windham Solid Waste Management District. The vote was unanimous, with nine voters present.
Dover Selectboard member Tom Baltrus, who is the board’s liaison to WSWMD, said the reason the vote was occurring was that last year, proposed changes to the way WSWMD handled fees would have put Dover in an unfavorable position.
“Currently (fees are assessed by) population,” said Baltrus. “There was movement to change it to the grand list, in which Dover would have paid a lot more.”
That proposal, mixed with WSWMD’s decision last year to discontinue its recycling service, spurred town officials to consider leaving the district to handle waste removal on its own. Because the deadline for withdrawing from the district was approaching, the board decided to move forward with the special Town Meeting. However, after the vote was scheduled, they discovered through further research that it may not be cost effective to withdraw.
“The reality that came to light through the study was that the cost to the town would potentially be high if we withdrew,” said Baltrus. “We need to remain in compliance with state statutes, and we would have to do all of the items that the district takes care of, such as outreach, school programs, mailings, and hazardous waste collections. With the cost of that, plus training and personnel, we feel now that it’s better to let people that are currently doing it, do it.”
Additionally, Baltrus said with WSWMD no longer handling recycling and with the addition of revenue from a solar array it houses, fees for member towns are likely to go down rather than up.
Selectboard vice chair Vicki Capitani said that this year, Dover will pay close to $13,000 to WSWMD. Though the board did not have a calculated figure for how much it would cost to leave the district, Capitani said that the town would be responsible for hosting two hazardous waste collections per year.
“The one that happened here last year cost $9,000,” said Capitani, noting that forthcoming regulation changes will require that hazardous waste collections occur four times per year.
Dover resident Peter Miles asked how much the town is paying for recycling now that WSWMD is no longer handling it. “We budgeted $14,000 and currently we’re at $4,700,” said Capitani. “Which is 33% of our budget. So we’re going to be over on that line item by the end of the year.”
Board member Sarah Shippee noted that the recycling costs would be on the town regardless of the voters’ decision on whether to leave WSWMD.
Baltrus said that although the board was recommending that voters not approve the article to leave the district, the board should be mindful of fees associated with the district and the benefit membership brings to the town. Capitani agreed.
“We can do this again next year if we want to,” said Capitani. “There’s an annual window to withdraw from the district.”