Recycling center, fees to be evaluated

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BELLOWS FALLS — A myriad of disposal fees at the Rockingham Recycling Center won't be going up until the new recycling committee has a chance to evaluate the operations of the center, interim Town Manager Chuck Wise said Thursday.

Wise said he is in the process of putting together a five-member committee to look at the recycling center, which also handles municipal trash, and one of the committee's responsibilities will be to evaluate the new fee structure.

The board has been presented with recommendations to raise trash bag fees, disposal fees for white and brown goods, as well as another increase in construction and demolition debris fees.

Select Board member Peter Golec said during the board's regular meeting Tuesday that the Rockingham center is used by townspeople from bordering towns such as Springfield, Chester, Putney and Brattleboro. Golec said he believes Rockingham has seen a strong influx of out-of-town users because its fees are lower than surrounding towns.

No town is the same in how it calculates trash disposal, Golec said.

One thing that would help the operation of the recycling center in these pandemic months, Golec said, is if people would buy their trash tickets ahead of time.

"It would save a lot of time and effort," he said.

While the recycling center is open, it is not the free-for-all it used to be, and it's much slower to use, causing traffic backups along Route 5. People can drop off trash and recyclables, but the exchange shop is not open.

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Wise told the board Tuesday evening that he expects the new committee will have a recommendation on the center's operation by a meeting in August. He said the new committee "had a narrow focus" to evaluate the operations of the center.

At one point, the recycling center was called the Rockingham-Westminster Recycling Center, since it exists on Bellows Falls-owned land in Westminster, not far from the entrance to Bellows Falls Union High School on Route 5.

But Westminster residents have to buy a trash sticker for their windshields in order to use the center, and then pay the disposal costs on top of that.

Rockingham residents get a free sticker, since the center is supported in part through their property taxes.

Gary DeRosia, who runs the recycling center for the town, told the board that the town's contract for handling and disposing of recycled materials expires at the end of June. He said the executive director of the Southern Windsor, Windham Solid Waste Management District has agreed to find a new contract for the town.

DeRosia said the recycling services contract does not affect the trash disposal contract, which remains in effect.

As a result, he said, the costs of trash disposal, currently based on the size of bag you use, shouldn't be affected.

DeRosia praised his three part-time employees who have continued to show up and work during the pandemic and shutdown: Bob Fogg, Eric Davis and Brad Nelson. "They've done a great job," DeRosia said. "They are there every day and keeping it in operation."

Contact Susan Smallheer at ssmallheer@reformer.com.


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