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Braintree officials postpone vote on automated trash barrels

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  August 6, 2013 05:20 PM

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Braintree officials have held off on a recommendation to buy trash barrels for a new automated collection system, requesting more information before allowing the $905,000 purchase.

At a Ways and Means Committee hearing Monday night, Town Councilors debated the purchase, which would only cost the town $775,000 thanks to a $130,000 state grant.

“I think we need to take a look at where the savings are,” said Councilor Sean Powers prior to the meeting. “I’m told that the town will save additional money even with the bonding of these barrels, but something we have to look at is if we don’t use Sunrise Savenger five years from now, will these barrels be obsolete?”

Officials will revisit the issue before their Aug. 13 meeting. After the Ways and Means Committee vote, the full council will have to take up the issue.

The new system is part of the month-old contract with Sunrise Scavengers, which will replace the manual collection of trash with an automated method.

Each house will receive one 64-gallon barrel for trash and a 64-gallon barrel for recycling.

Officials in the mayor’s office hope to make the switch in October, but first new barrels have to be purchased that will work under the system.

Though the new system is spelled out in the already signed contract, several councilors voiced concern over the new method.

“The question arises that oftentimes, whether it be a party or celebration of sorts, that there will be more than a barrel of trash and recyclables,” said Committee chairman Paul “Dan” Clifford. “There is a lot of angst about people having to carry their excess up to waste transfer station. That needs to be addressed and people need to be comfortable that those situations will be few and far between or they won’t exist.”

For households producing more than their allotted trash amount, Clifford also voiced concerns that getting rid of the trash would suddenly become cumbersome and expensive.

Powers too doubted that an automated system, which restricts how much trash can be thrown away, would work. Though the system is designed to promote recycling, Powers said residents are recycling already.

“Braintree was one of the first communities to aggressively pursue a recycling program on the South Shore…we were one of the first to have a recycling center. Folks aggressively recycle in Braintree,” he said.

Councilor John Mullaney meanwhile was annoyed to see the debate elongated beyond Monday’s meeting.

“We will vote on the 13th what we could have voted tonight,” Mullaney said.

To Mullaney, the revised system makes perfect sense. Not only will the new contract and collection method save the town money – approximately $750,000 over the five-year contract - but recycling more will help the environment, he said.

Peter Morin, chief of operations and staff, was also optimistic that the new method would lead to increased recycling.

“Our recycling levels have been stagnant,” Morin said. “As a community it hasn’t improved over the last couple of years and we’ve got to do something to improve upon it. So we’re trying to control our costs and how much money we spend on trash.”

Controlling costs is also a major factor. Though the hauling fees aren’t high now, under Capital Waste Management, they would have gone up.

Though delayed a week, Morin was optimistic that the new hauling method would soon be underway.

“It won’t delay the implementation of the purchase if it’s voted favorably at the next full council meeting,” Morin said. In the meantime, “I think we were able to answer all the questions and address the concerns presented.”

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