Selectmen Chair Christine Joy said that they would be discussing the transfer sticker policy and examination of pay per bag options. Highway Superintendent Rob Firlotte and Highway Department Administrative Assistant Colleen Morin were both on the call as was Todd Koep, a Municipal Assistance Coordinator with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT).
“I was actually seriously impressed with it,” Koep said of Plympton’s transfer station that he also called “user-friendly.” “It’s set up really well in the event that you want to use a pay as you throw program,” he continued. He said that pay as you throw is part of a larger waste reduction plan across the state. He said that implementing a pay as you throw program reduces disposal costs for towns by 40 percent nearly immediately. “Another benefit of pay as you throw is it evens the playing field for everybody,” Koep explained. He pointed out that under the current system, a person that throws away one bag of trash per week versus someone that throws away a truckload per day, pay the same. He said these programs have been highly successful across the State.
Koep said that Plympton sold 836 stickers this past year. Koep said that a technical assistance grant would be the first step in setting up a pay as you throw program. This would allow Koep to do the research necessary to implement the program. He said the timeline would be between 12-18 months. He said the total cost of the rollout would be $7,500. He said DEP would cover much of that cost. Koep said that entering into the technical assistance grant does not mean committing to the program. Selectman Mark Russo asked if there were any towns that entered into the program and then backed out due to public upset. Koep said that he did not know of any such towns and none in the 31 municipalities he represents. Selectman John Traynor said that he would want to ensure that the residents’ feedback would be taken into account before implementing any such program. Koep said he was happy to hold Zoom chats or events at the library to allow for residents to attend and ask questions.
Traynor said that anecdotally he has heard that the program increases trash that ends up in the woods. Koep said that studies show that the kind of items involved in illegal dumping are generally not the kind of things placed into bags. He said that there are several different ways that municipalities can curb illegal dumping including the use of Facebook and increased police patrol in areas of high illegal dumping.
Board of Health member Art Morin said that under the new contract with Waste Management the cost of disposal went up considerably. He also said that at least once a week, a truckload of waste is brought to the transfer station and the other residents are paying for it.
The Board also discussed potentially using some of the town’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to help fund an HVAC system at the Silver Lake Regional schools. Town Administrator Liz Dennehy said the estimated cost for Plympton as of right now is $187,000 or 12.1 percent of the cost. “I think it is kind of a no brainer,” said Dennehy regarding using the funds. She pointed out that there would be considerable county funding available for other purposes. Chair of the Plympton School Committee Jon Wilhelmsen said, “We have an opportunity to fund what is a really large capital project with federal funds.” Dennehy pointed out that the uses for the ARPA funds are fairly limited in scope. The Selectmen voted in favor of the project subject to final numbers.
Dennehy told the Board that she and the Fire Chief had met with Howard Wright from Wright Technology Group. Dennehy said the group came highly recommended. For $3,500 the company will do a complete IT assessment for the town’s entire network. They would then put together a plan for moving forward including cost estimates and how to build that into the budget. Joy said they worked with Wright when COVID started and said, “he’s a very straight shooter; he’s not pie in the sky; he’ll make recommendations based on the town’s needs… I think it would be in our best interest to get him on board.” The Board voted to enter into an agreement with the group. Dennehy said a big part of the plan would be getting rid of the physical servers in the building.
Dennehy told the Board that there was a moisture issue at the Old Townhouse and said that longer term there will need to be a plan put in place for that building. Dennehy said they were going to get some prices to have someone assess the building and identify potential issues. Wilhelmsen said that the winter and the resulting drier air will give the town a little bit of time to address any problems.
Traynor said that his rave was for the many good things going on around town including the Veterans Luncheon that the Council on Aging puts on. He said they have a young police officer who is a veteran who attends. Russo said his rave was for local government especially given the “downright paralysis” at the federal level. Joy said her rave was along the same lines. “It really brings the message home how important the local elections are… we really are so lucky here in town to have so many good people so thank you to everyone who is serving.”