Board of Health discusses increases, low recycling rate in Huntington

Huntington is the second lowest town for recycling among the ten towns

The Huntington Board of Health held a public hearing on Wednesday to discuss possible rate increases at the transfer station. (Photo by Amy Porter)

HUNTINGTON, Mass. (The Westfield News) –At a public hearing Wednesday on a planned increase in rates at the transfer station, Board of Health member Thomas Hart said the increase was to encourage recycling in the town. “We’re at 22%. Most towns are at 35 to 42%,” Hart said.

The Board of Health is considering increasing the cost of stickers for bags of trash. Currently, stickers cost $1 for trash bags up to 30 gallons, and $2 for larger bags, although that policy has not been enforced. The new policy would require $1 sticker for 13 gallon (kitchen) bags, and two stickers for 30 gallon and larger bags. To offset the increase, the board has also proposed reducing the annual permit from $35 to $30 for use of the transfer station.

“For the people who are recycling on a regular basis, $2 a bag is punitive,” said Finance Committee chair Darlene McVeigh, who will begin a term as selectman on July 1.

Highway supervisor Charles Dazelle also said the Board of Health should be considerate of other departments because of increased rubbish on the road, which he fears may result from the price increase, and would be the responsibility of the Highway Department.

Town treasurer Aimee Burnham asked how the board determined $2 per bag, and not $3 or $1.50.
Hart said the transfer station is “way in the red,” and Jackman added, “It’s a question of change,” referring to the $1.50 price which would require making change for customers who buy stickers at the transfer station.

“If it’s money, then why did you drop the permit from $35 to $30,” asked Selectmen chair Edward Renauld.

Chart compares 2015 recycling rates to 2016 recycling rates for the ten HRMC member-Towns. (Source – DEP Annual Surveys (data provided by towns). This information was discussed at the March 20 2017 HRMC Board meeting.

“We have a lower socio-economic population. It might be a hardship,” Burnham said. She also pointed out that the dump is not losing that much. Last year, they spent $49,497 on hauling and disposal, and brought in $48,081 in revenue. “You’re not in the red. This is an education issue,” Burnham said.

In fact, Huntington is the second lowest town for recycling among the ten towns that participate in the Hampshire Resource Management Cooperative, according to Kathleen A. Casey, HRMC administrator.

“According to the 2010 census, Huntington’s population is 2180; Towns closest to (Huntington) are Ashfield at 1737 (who has the highest recycling rate of the member-towns of 41.4%) and then Williamsburg with a census population of 2482 (recycling rate of 33.2%). As the spreadsheet indicates, Huntington’s recycling rate is at the low end of the member-towns (current rate 21.9%) – just ahead of Middlefield who trails at 19.6%,” Casey wrote in response to an inquiry.

Burnham asked what the Board of Health is doing to encourage and educate about recycling. Lou Purinpon, who works at the transfer station, said that signs are up as to what materials are recyclable, and he puts out recycling bins for sale every Tuesday and Saturday at the transfer station.

Burnham suggested sending recycling information to residents, and posting information in the newspapers and on social media as well.

The vote by the Board of Health on changing the transfer station rates is set for June 21 at their meeting at 6:30 in Town Hall.
“In the future, however you decide to vote, you can’t make these decisions so late in the fiscal year,” Renauld said.

Copyright 2017 The Westfield News