Conceding that a change to the way residents are charged when bringing construction debris and brush to the dump didn’t work out, officials last week revised the policy again.
Following the Board of Selectmen’s decision, New Canaanites now can bring up to 300 pounds of such waste to the Transfer Station for free though they can only come once per day under those terms—a new stipulation.
“The [Transfer] Station managers are well-informed and they know who is coming in and who isn’t,” Public Works Director Tiger Mann told the Board of Selectmen at its regular meeting, held July 21 via videoconference.
First Selectman Kevin Moynihan and Selectmen Kit Devereaux and Nick Williams voted in favor of the change.
The new fee structure replaces a problematic and short-lived policy at the dump—part of a wide reassessment of municipal fees that Moynihan had called for—that had residents paying a fee for all the “bulky waste” they brought to the Lakeview Avenue facility.
“We kind of bought [into] this idea in budget season and it probably wasn’t the greatest idea,” Moynihan said.
Mann said the difficulty with the abandoned policy, which had taken effect July 1, was “that we are getting a substantial amount of traffic into the station for lower charges, meaning 50-cent charges.”
“There is a 10-pound limit on the scale so the first 10 pounds is read by the scale so it’s at 10-ton increments, so 10 pounds and at our rate, 5 cents per pound ,turns out to be a 50-cent fee for the first 10 pounds,” Mann said.
“We feel that that is a little excessive,” Mann added. “It’s driving too much traffic into the station and causing some backups so we felt that we should go and revise the poundage to the first 100 pounds for free but then limit the number of times a resident could come into the station to one time a day.”
The new fee structure effectively keeps the longtime policy but limits “free-up-to-300-pound” visits to one per day. When Moynihan asked Mann why that wasn’t suggested initially during budget season, he replied, “Because we were trying to capture everything and we were also asked at the time to mind the areas of revenue. We were trying to make the Transfer Station cost-neutral.”
Initially, the selectmen had considered a change that would allow residents to dump just 100 pounds of bulky waste for free per day, but Devereaux said it should be 300.
“I think that a lot of people are under financial pressure I think there is enough change going on and I think that if we can consider chipping in for more attractive guardrail for the Country Club that we can afford to do this little bit of a break for people that need the dump,” she said. “Excuse me, ‘Transfer Station.’ ”
Williams agreed, saying, “The fact is during this pandemic I think people are throwing more stuff out whether it’s because they want to sell their house or because they have time on their hands or whatever. They seem to be cleaning out that garage garage that needed to be cleaned out. The attic. So I think going to kind of a higher cost, one-time cost, makes sense rather than trying to weigh everything and figure out what the cost is.”