Media Archive

Orneville residents want transfer station to stay open

Article from Bangor Daily News, Wednesday, June 07, 2006

By Diana Bowley
Staff Writer

MILO - About a dozen Orneville residents told Piscataquis County commissioners on Tuesday they would be willing to pay more in solid waste fees to keep their transfer station open.

The commissioners, who held a public hearing on the matter at the Milo Town Hall, had considered closing the facility in the Unorganized Territory because of its operational costs. In addition, the transfer station, one of only three in the state's Unorganized Territory, has been the scene of repeated vandalism in past months.

Based on comments made Tuesday by local residents, the commissioners agreed to delay a decision until another public hearing is held in the evening to allow more participation.

The consideration for closing the facility came during discussions on how to improve business practices in the county while reducing taxes.

"Dumps are not just dumps anymore. ... It's big bucks," interim County Manager Owen Pratt said during the meeting.

He said Orneville residents were not totally funding the approximately $80,000 cost of the transfer station. Rather, the transfer station was being subsidized by other Unorganized Territory in the county.

Last month, Pratt pegged the estimated cost at $90,000, but its operation has been more tightly monitored, which has reduced some costs. Based on a year-round population of 254, the transfer station costs $313 per person, compared to a statewide average of $63 per person, he said.

"It cannot continue to be business as usual. Something has got to change," Pratt said. The commissioners are obligated to look at alternatives for cost-savings, and that includes closing the transfer station and joining a nearby solid waste facility, he said.

The residents, who claimed they were paying their fair share for the operation, especially those who had waterfront properties, said there would be no savings, only a shift in costs if the facility were closed. In addition, roadsides would be littered with old appliances and garbage, they warned.

Doreen Sheive, fiscal administrator of the Unorganized Territory, was in the audience and said some communities charge a per-bag fee, which might help fund the operation. Her suggestion was amenable to some of the Orneville residents, who said it would be a way to help offset the costs.

"The issue here today is who is responsible for the trash ... the person who generates it or the public," Pratt said.

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NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.