Rates for Trash Disposal Rise; District Managers Align Costs

By JAMES KINSELLA

Starting July 1, the cost of trash disposal and recycling will change at the central transfer station operated by the Martha's Vineyard Refuse and Resource Recovery District.

Prices for trash disposal are either rising or falling, depending on what kind of trash container is used.

And for the first time, people who want to recycle materials at the central transfer station in Edgartown will be required to buy an annual sticker. The sticker is designed to help cover the shortfall between the district's recycling sales revenue and its recycling costs.

For many refuse district customers, the most noticeable change will be the increased cost to throw out a bag of trash. The charge to dispose of one bag of trash up to 32 gallons in size will go from $2.50 to $4.

The charge to dispose of the contents of a 32-gallon trash container, however, will fall from $4.50 to $4.

The refuse district board recently enacted the changes on the recommendation of the new district general manager, Donald Hatch.

Mr. Hatch recommended the change to standardize what he said has been a sometimes arbitrary process. In the past, he said, some customers had been able to negotiate lower prices for smaller bags on the spot.

Customers who do not accumulate trash quickly now can put up to several smaller bags of trash in a 32-gallon container and be charged a lower price, Mr. Hatch said.

The refuse district also is cutting the cost of a 10-bag coupon book from $45 to $40, Mr. Hatch said. But he said the district no longer will honor coupons torn in half to correspond with smaller bags.

By charging a set price for bags up to 32 gallons in size, Mr. Hatch said, the district also is aligning its prices with the towns of Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven, which require a paid sticker placed on each bag of trash to be thrown away.

No bag sticker will be required to dispose of trash at the Edgartown transfer station operated by the refuse district, Mr. Hatch said, only the $4 fee.

People will also still have the option of having their vehicle weighed at the transfer station scale house, throwing out the trash, and returning to the station to have the vehicle weighed again. The rate is 7.75 cents per pound. There is a minimum charge of $8 to use the scale.

Recycling, however, is a different story. Starting Friday, the district will require a sticker on any vehicle bringing recyclables to the Edgartown transfer station or the satellite dropoffs in Aquinnah, Chilmark and West Tisbury. The annual sticker charge is $10 for district residents and $20 for anyone living outside the four district towns.

Stickers will be available at the satellite dropoffs and at the scale house of the Edgartown transfer station. Mr. Hatch said customers should place the stickers on the left-hand side of the vehicle so as to be visible by the drop-off attendant.

Recycling charges will not change for construction and demolition debris, or for trees and brush, both of which carry a rate of $160 per ton. Recycling charges will not change on specific recycling items, such as refrigerators ($18), car tires ($7) and computers or televisions ($30). A price list is available at the Edgartown transfer station.

The district's four member towns of Aquinnah, Chilmark, Edgartown and West Tisbury previously charged $5 for stickers to use refuse district facilities, but district officials say the sticker requirement was not closely enforced. Mr. Hatch said the district has the power to set the fees for district facilities.

District chairman Alex Preston said the new prices for disposing of trash and recyclables better correspond to the costs that the district incurs.

"I think in the past, the customers have kind of been determining what goes on at the district," Mr. Preston said. "It turns out that we were collecting half-coupons. If a full bag is a coupon, for half a bag, it only makes sense. A barrel is 32 gallons. Nobody's complaining that price is going down. We're trying to rationalize what the prices are. We're just going to cover our costs.

"Looking at our expenses and revenues, we should not be spending money that we don't have," Mr. Preston said.