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SOUTH HADLEY — The Select Board, Town Administrator Lisa Wong and DPW Director John Broderick hosted two separate public hearings on April 13 to discuss changes to trash collections and sewer rates.

Town Administrator Lisa Wong first discussed why the trash collection changes are happening.

She said, “The trash industry is changing. There are both environmental and state regarding trash and recycling. The industry itself has also changed in terms of vendor consolidation so there is less competition and then vendors are moving away from manual pickup to automated pickup.”

South Hadley currently has manual pickup and pay as you throw system which includes having a person manually pick up the trash and put it in the truck. Automated pickups involve carts so that the arm attached to the truck can pickup the cart and dump it into the truck.

Wong said this is a big transition but inevitable based on the trash industry. The public hearing had a 35-, 65-, and 95-gallon cart available for residents to view.

Right now, there is a flat rate of $125 for an every other week pickup and an additional week subscription if residents wanted to get their trash picked up for an additional $210. Residents must purchase green bags.

The new rate will be between $150 to $300 with an additional week costing $220. The cart is included with green bags for excess. Included in the price is the cart, the lid, a tracking device for the cart and assembly and distribution. There will be one cart for the trash and one for recycling.

Wong also said that prices may vary for each household based on the size of the cart they need.
The next steps are for the town to decide whether to lease or buy the carts but the goal is to acquire and build 13,200 carts.

The presentation also discussed the impacts of a biweekly fee with carts with the options of leasing the carts to own them, only leasing them or buying the carts outright.

Broderick explained the different options the town has been presented to receive carts.

Between all the offers, some of the options include either the town funding carts, leasing the carts from Republic Services, staying with the manual pickup or eventually going automated.

Broderick shared that in his eyes the most reasonable option would be a six-year contract with the first year being a manual pickup, like it is now, recycling would stay as dual stream and years two to six would be automated.

He said that from July 1 to June 30, 2025, South Hadley will still have the green bag system.

Residents spent the rest of the meeting asking questions and voicing their concerns.

Wong also had a presentation about potential sewer rate changes for South Hadley which involves the wastewater treatment system.

Broderick explained what goes into the sewer and wastewater bills.

“Your wastewater rate, for those of you who have sewer bills, takes care of everything from basically when it leaves your house to the point it’s treated and released back into the river. You are talking about the pump stations, the piping that is in your street and the wastewater treatment plant itself,” he said.

Broderick added that the changing rates is to comply with federal and state mandates that are working to eliminate nitrogen and other chemicals from the wastewater to keep the river clean.

South Hadley is currently going through a wastewater management plan that is required every 20 years and should be completed by Spring 2026.

According to Wong, the rates are being changed are due to the recommendations from the wasterwater management plant, the maintenance of the wastewater management plant and potential capital purchases.
Broderick said it will give the town recommendations for treatment to meet requirements and asses the piping system, pump stations and wastewater treatment plant and processes.

Wong said the slideshow of the plant and process itself is on the town website.

At the May Town Meeting, there will be articles for a Main Street bypass for $500,000, a Main Street transformer upgrade for $52,000 and a Channel Grinder for $50,000.

Fall Town Meeting will see an article for a sewer vac truck for $660,000 and a pickup truck for $60,000.
Broderick said that last year the DPW raised rates from $280 to $360 to help cover operational costs and capital improvements.

He added, “If a rate increases by $10, your end of year dollars amounts to about $87,000. In a perfect situation the wastewater treatment end of year fund balance would $1.2 million to $2 million because as you saw with some of the capital items or replacement, it be a $100,00 problem. What you are trying to do is you are trying to balance your rate with what you are trying to accomplish the next years.”

According to Broderick, there are significant costs related to the wastewater treatment plant and Main Street pump station.

The rate changes included increasing to either $375, $400, $425 or $450.

The recommend rate change and increase to $450.

Wong explained the reasoning for the recommendation.

“It’s something we are asking the public and the board to consider at this time and to compare that to other options. We are not going to have us vote on the future costs. We are going to do that year by year but we wanted to let folks what the future holds because we want to have transparency and starting planning and have options.”

The public hearing was continued to April 16 and the Select Board approved an increase of the sewer rate to $450 for fiscal year 2025 which will cover immediate operations and capital needs for sewer.

Wong also said the recommendation for the carts was to buy them based on lowest cost and most flexibility.
The Select Board also approved the trash fee will cost $225 for FY25.

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