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WVN Newsletter #176: Landfill anger rising

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  • waylandvoters1
    Dear Wayland Voter, The Finance Committee meets Monday July 24 at 7 p.m. at the Town Building to discuss new Landfill fees that have prompted dozens of
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 23, 2006
      Dear Wayland Voter,

      The Finance Committee meets Monday July 24 at 7 p.m. at the
      Town Building to discuss new Landfill fees that have prompted
      dozens of residents to assail the Board of Health at two
      meetings in two weeks.

      The FinCom doesn't always issue an agenda before meetings,
      and doesn't necessarily schedule public comment. Though the
      Fincom argued successfully against a recent Town Meeting
      proposal to require public comment at all board and committee
      meetings, it expressed agreement with the goal of encouraging
      public comment.

      The following summary of the July 20 Board of Health meeting is
      based on reports of several observers.


      For the second week in a row, Landfill users angrily brought their
      concerns about new policies and fees to the Board of Health.
      Many of the speakers were older citizens.

      At issue is the ban on waste wood disposal, a new $50
      surcharge on pickup trucks (but not on vans or SUVs) because
      of a pickup's "expanded capacity potential," a new $25 surcharge
      on trailers, and the $25 disposal fee for electronics. There were
      no public hearings about the changes.

      About 50 landfill users attended the July 20 meeting, and nearly
      20 spoke during public comment. The meeting was scheduled
      in response to complaints by landfill users at the BoH meeting
      the week before. After public comment, the Board of Health
      refused to discuss landfill fees even though they were
      the next item on the agenda. BoH Chair Michelle Wolf said the
      the reason was that no one from the Finance Committee was in
      attendance and changes in fees must go through the FinCom.

      Said one landfill user: "They're treating the public like garbage."

      Wolf also said the BoH had asked to be on the FinCom's
      agenda at its July 24 meeting. This could be the last opportunity
      for the public to comment on landfill fees and policies before the
      deadline for new dump stickers.

      "Folks don't understand," Wolf told the Wayland Town Crier
      earlier. "Our budget is completely separate from the fees we get.
      All user fees go directly into the town's general budget. Our
      budget is set independently of that."

      A sampling of users' July 20 comments:

      -- There was no notification of the ban on wood
      disposal...continue it until the fall and form a committee to look
      into alternatives...people are on vacation or in the middle of
      remodeling projects.

      -- The total ban (on waste wood disposal) is "unconscionable
      and totally counter-productive...You're going to find heck of a lot
      more wood dumped in the dump surreptitiously...You're doing
      exactly the wrong thing." (Wolf has said that the board was
      unable to produce an effective plan to charge for wood disposal
      by volume.)

      -- I don't even own a truck, but it (the $50 surcharge on pickups)
      is just unfair. There's no logic. It's not based on any facts that I'm
      aware of.

      -- My pickup is registered as a pleasure vehicle. I don't have that
      much trash. I go to the landfill twice a month. My wife won't let me
      put the trash in her car. So I have the truck. For 28 years I've been
      going back and forth to the landfill.

      -- You're using the size of the vehicle as a surrogate for the
      amount of garbage...To simply tax us because we chose to
      purchase a pickup truck so we can put our canoe on top is
      arbitrary and unfair.

      -- I saw a BMW SUV at the dump today with more trash than I can
      put in my pickup. You're doing something to a small minority
      that's very discriminatory. $50 now will be $150 in a few years. If
      you're going to look for more money for the dump, charge
      everyone more. You're penalizing the wrong people. You're
      hiding behind the Finance Committee. Let's be forthright and
      honest, this is a tax, and it's rotten policy. If you really
      want to do something fair, use the weighing scale, let's all go
      through the weighing machine.

      -- I'm 78...In Sudbury, seniors pay nothing for the dump...what
      you're doing now is "totally ridiculous"...my daughter has an
      SUV...I'd hate to match what I take to the dump in my pickup with
      what she takes.

      -- I'm a tradesman. My truck has commercial plates. It's also my
      pleasure vehicle. Even if I wanted to dump construction
      materials at the landfill, I couldn't. It's not allowed. I use my truck
      only for household trash.

      -- We retired people can't afford the extra expense for having
      wood picked up.

      -- The total cost of dump services may exceed private trash
      pickup if services are eliminated.

      -- I just found old wood furniture dumped near Mill Pond. You'll
      find more of that if people can't get rid of their wood at the dump.

      -- If the budget is independent of revenue, then it's a tax, not a

      -- Perhaps you should charge by number of visits. Or by the size
      of the family. That's more logical than charging by the type of
      vehicle a person happens to have.

      -- My small pickup truck holds no more than my small car; it's
      just more convenient.

      -- You should tax all the SUV's, too.

      After public comment, Wolf said that last year there was a 38
      percent cut in waste wood and waste ban budgets. (By way of
      comparison, the school budget was cut by about 1 percent,
      which was termed "moderate" by the School Committee.)

      "We're pleased so many of you are taking part in the process,"
      she told the residents.

      There were loud shouts of "What process?" from the audience.

      The Board of Health is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. on July 24
      ("possibly with the Finance Committee") and at 6:30 p.m. on July

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      Wayland Voters Network
      Michael Short, Editor
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