AYER -- Selectmen approved a recommendation from the curbside solid-waste-collection working group to table the implementation of curbside trash collection.

"Don't get me wrong people. I appreciate your passion to a great extent, but I'm here to check numbers and save money for the taxpayers," said Selectman Gary Luca at the beginning of Tuesday's meeting.

Mark Wetzel, Department of Public Works superintendent, presented efforts by the working group since January.

The group conducted two public-input meetings, developing proposed program options, met with haulers to discuss the project, and evaluated proposals and price bids, developing solid-waste budgets for various alternatives.

Technical assistance was received from the Mass. Department of Environmental Protection in the evaluation of cost v. benefits, implementation process and alternatives to curbside collection and found that the program costs are higher than the current transfer station costs.

About 38 percent of residents use the transfer station and others opt to pay for curbside pick-up from private companies.

The transfer station is operated by the DPW and accepts residents' municipal solid-waste, zero-sort recycling, yard and bulk items, and has a "swap shed."

"They're so passionate about going up there and talking to people they only see once a week or talking to people that are running for office," said Luca. "It's a social event and they don't mind paying for it.


Advertisement

"

Wetzel said if Ayer were to adopt the curbside program, costs could increase for some and decrease for others.

The current cost per user of the transfer station is $395 and expected to increase to $451 in fiscal 2016.

The transfer station with curbside alternative would be $491 per user.

"For right now, it looks like this is not a good fit," said Selectman Jannice Livingston.

To determine costs for implementing a curbside-collection program, the working group sent out 21 price requests. They received responses from three companies -- Waste Management, GW Shaw and Son and Republic Services.

The proposals ranged from $277,920 for 2,000 households to $399,080.

Price increases, Wetzel said, were one concern addressed at the public-input meetings. Other residents were worried about the litter curbside trash might bring and the ability to get carts outside in snowy weather.

Some advantageswere that the town would have more control over solid waste and it could increase recycling.

Livingston said there are people who use curbside pick-up and do not recycle, so adding this service for the entire town would not mean people would recycle.

Luca commended the working group for its efforts and thanked the crowd for their passion on the subject.

Chairman Christopher Hillman said he appreciated the interest of townspeople but that the problem became a little personal for him.

He said he received a threatening phone call Tuesday stating that if he did not back off the curbside pick-up program, the unknown caller would do harm to his house and his car.

Hillman later said he did not file a police report.

"I know the people of Ayer aren't like that. It was a very disturbing call, but I want to make sure people know there is no sinister plan here," he said.

Livingston made a motion to table the curbside pick-up program based on the two public-input meetings, 603 signatures on a petition against the pickup and the recommendation of the working group. The idea can be revisited in the future.

Follow Kelly Carrion on Twitter and Tout @KellyCarrion12.