Woolwich may cancel special town meeting

Posted:  Tuesday, July 11, 2017 - 8:00am

A July 17 special town meeting for Woolwich voters to consider a multi-year trash and recycling contract with Ecomaine might be called off. The select board discussed the possibility Monday evening.

Lissa Bittermann, Ecomaine business development manager, told selectmen and members of the town’s Solid Waste and Recycling Committee the town could hold off extending its contract but she couldn’t guarantee tipping fees and other costs would stay at the levels proposed.

She said Ecomaine typically signs three-year contracts, although recently a number of towns have contracted for 10 to 20 years. “You could continue going year-to-year. If that’s what you decide you want to do,” she said. Woolwich’s proposed contract is for 10 years.

“We only found out about this a week ago and the special town meeting is this coming Monday. I think what we really need is more time,” committee member Don Adams commented. “I honestly think we’d be better off going with a three-year contract rather than a 10–year deal just because of the pace things seem to change these days.”

Committee chair Jonathan Appleyard felt a long-term contract was in the community’s best interest. He was more concerned about the “sense of urgency” for signing. “I don’t want the townspeople to get the feeling they’re being backed into a corner.”

Bittermann said she understood both men’s concerns. “The communities that made the decision to go with long-term contracts all had more than seven days to consider it,” she said, but added she couldn’t guarantee how long Ecomaine would honor the proposed prices. Bittermann doubted Ecomaine would wait until the annual town meeting next spring. “We might be willing to hold to the contract numbers for 90-days,” she said.

“I don’t think we’re going to do better anywhere else,’ Select Board Chair David King Sr. said. “Delaying signing a contract does nothing but delay it,” King added, finding a waste hauler to provide curbside trash and recycling pickup was a lot less worrisome. “It’s the cost of disposing of these materials that worries me most.” King said the townspeople were very happy with the services Riverside Disposal is providing the town. “We’ve had nothing but good reports.”

Committee member Fred Kahrl said the sooner the town signed a contract with Ecomaine, the better. “The important thing is that we stay with an organization that’s been very successful and doing very well.” Sixty-six communities belong to Ecomaine, a nonprofit based in Portland.

Selectmen Allen Greene and Jason Shaw worried a short-term contract might cost the town more in the long run. King said depending on what Ecomaine decides, the board may choose to reschedule the town meeting for September.