Saying some residents take unfair advantage of a standing rule, municipal officials are considering a change to how the town charges those bringing brush and construction debris to the dump.
As it is, it’s free for those with a Transfer Station sticker to dump the first 300 pounds of material, according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann.
Yet “we have people that are gaming the system,” Mann told the Board of Selectmen at their Feb. 25 meeting in Town Hall.
“[They] will come in multiple times a day—290 pounds, 275 pounds, things of that nature, where they are weighing at their house and then coming in and gaming the system,” Mann said. “So we feel that if we got rid of that and just made it fair across the board—you come in, you pay.”
The proposal—to start charging the standard rate of $100 per ton for brush and $125 per ton for construction debris as soon as the material comes in to the Lakeview Avenue facility—would bring in about $30,000 in additional revenue annually, Mann said.
The proposed change is one of several new and increased fees now under consideration by the town. If adopted, they could generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional revenue, according to proposed fee schedules obtained by NewCanaanite.com through a public records request.
The fee changes are designed to bring New Canaan in line with surrounding towns such as Darien, Wilton and Ridgefield, officials said.
Selectman Nick Williams said he was in favor of reviewing fees to ensure that New Canaan is in line with the town’s “peer cohort.”
“But we still want to be in the ballpark,” he said. “We don’t want to be an outlier, whether too [little] or too much.”
Larger items under consdiation include a new “drainage policy review” fee of $500 that could generate $30,000 annually based on 2018 estimates, a $5 per-ton increase to the “tipping fee” that haulers pay to bring solid waste to the dump ($19,000) and a 68% increase to resident sticker fees ($60,000).
The proposed sticker fee increase, from $45 to $75, would mark the first time that fee has changed since 2015, officials said.
The drainage policy review would be triggered “when someone comes in with a development and we look at it, make sure it follows suit with our policy,” Mann said.
“Some of these reviews take hours of work, multiple visits, things of that nature,” he said.
In addition to Public Works, the Recreation and Building Departments reviewed proposed fee increases. The selectmen did not formally vote on the proposed fee changes, though they must “decide what we are willing to recommend to [the Board of Finance],” First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said.
The Building Department is proposing an increase for the first thousand of project value from $75 to $100 because the current fee “does not offset our time investment,” according to a memo from Chief Building Official Brian Platz. “This modest increase will not adversely impact larger projects but will net us approximately $30,000 annually at our present rate of permits issued,” the memo said. Recreation is proposing fee increases to men’s softball to cover field use and to a spring adult tennis clinic. Planning & Zoning is not proposing fee increases.
Not all proposed fee increases won support among the selectmen. For example, Mann said the town currently pays about $80,000 annually for fields lights at Mead Park, Dunning and the Orchard and Water Tower fields. Assessing a new fee to youth sports organizations that make use of the lighted fields could bring in about $34,500 annually, he said.
Moynihan called the collection of such fees “an administrative nightmare” and noted that the town will see savings from solar projects at the Waveny Pool and high school.
“I am not inclined” to introduce the new fees, he said.