Letter: Transfer station decision is about residents’ choice

Posted 9/26/23

To the editor:

The transfer station decision impacts all residents’ choices and pocketbooks. Both curbside users and transfer station users need to collaborate on this effort as it’s …

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Letter: Transfer station decision is about residents’ choice

Posted

To the editor:

The transfer station decision impacts all residents’ choices and pocketbooks. Both curbside users and transfer station users need to collaborate on this effort as it’s about keeping the choice of how you dispose of your waste and the expense to each resident.

Waste disposal will continue to be a resident expense; the conversation the Town Council (TC) is engaged in is about contracting with one curbside hauler, closing, or reducing the transfer station; it is not about the town moving to curbside waste pickup and covering the cost of waste-hauling through taxes paid, like in nearby towns/cities. I want residents to be clear about what the genuine concern is.

I encourage all Portsmouth residents, regardless of how they dispose of their waste, to take this issue seriously since it’s more than saving the transfer station for those who use and need it. It’s about keeping the choice to spend your money as you see, how to dispose of your waste as you see, and the ability to handle your waste as you can.

The TC’s decision will impact both curbside and transfer station users. It is essential to work together to keep choice in the hands of each resident. 

It was encouraging to see 100-plus residents at the recent TC meeting to share their input and learn more about what is happening related to waste handling in town. Based on this attendance, the TC decided to hold a special meeting at one of the schools so residents could participate. 

Everyone should be concerned with the lack of information shared by the TC on this issue (and, to be honest, many others). The TC tabled the town-wide curbside pickup by one hauler before the November election due to the level of resident concern, and after the election, the subject has come up again.

I and a few other concerned residents, both transfer station and curbside folks, attended the town Solid Waste and Recycling Committee Meeting on Sept. 12. We learned a lot at this meeting, and are thankful for those on the committee volunteering to help the town with waste-handling and reduction.

Taxes paid do not currently cover resident trash-hauling, nor will it be under a possible new plan. Many residents believe moving to 100 percent curbside pickup will cover the expense through property taxes. The one hauler to whom the TC awards the bid will charge residents the negotiated fee. The cost will not decrease, as evidenced by hauler input and previous attempts to secure a hauler for the town. What is sure is the cost for each resident will increase, and options will disappear. 

I learned Portsmouth is the second-highest recycler town in the state, and this data is only from transfer station users. Kudos to us. I also learned there are more transfer station users than has been noted — approximately 3,130 sticker-holders. 

The committee confirmed the orange bag and transfer sticker fees cover the transfer station expenses. The transfer station has a bond covered by transfer station user fees. If the transfer station is closed, the current bond will be paid for by all resident taxpayers.

I learned the TC directed the Department of Public Works to draft a request for proposals (RFP) for review and approval by the TC. Once the TC approves, the RFP is sent to waste management companies to bid on town curbside pickup. Note this is the third RFP, as the previous two sent to waste management companies did not yield an affordable option for residents. The third time may be a charm; the cost is clearly prohibitive.

Currently, residents can decide among several trash curbside haulers based on their needs or use the transfer station. Choice is the issue here. 

Residents, participate as you can; your voice matters regardless of how you prefer to dispose of your waste. Sign the Save the Transfer petition, attend the public meeting, and write to the TC to express your thoughts.

Cathleen Martin Sheils

2752 East Main Road

Portsmouth

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