Tisbury will hike trash fees, charge for recycling

A new contract with Bruno’s will include increased sticker rates and an end to free recycling.

Tisbury selectmen approved a new contract with Bruno's on Tuesday night. — Ralph Stewart

Tisbury selectmen Tuesday night approved a new three-year contract with Bruno’s Rolloff Inc. to provide townwide curbside collection services, as they have for the past four years. Under the new contract, which is effective July 1, sticker prices for refuse and recycling pickup will increase.

Bruno’s company representatives said the increases were necessary to keep up with a nationwide economic shift and the cost of removing trash.

The cost of a garbage can sticker for curbside pickup will increase from $4.50 to $5.75. Trash stickers for senior citizens will increase from $3 to $3.50. The weekly pickup schedule will remain the same, and stickers can be purchased at Cumberland Farms, Cronig’s Market, Leslie’s Drug Store, and Cash and Carry.

Curbside recycling costs will no longer be covered by the town. Instead, recycling customers will need to purchase a sticker to be placed on the Bruno’s recycling tote for an annual fee of $125 per sticker. Stickers may be purchased from the Bruno’s office in Edgartown. Recycling pickup will remain on the same biweekly schedule. Tisbury residents still have the option to bring their recyclables to the drop-off facility for no fee, if they have purchased an annual transfer station sticker, available at the Department of Public Works building.

Robert Goulart, general manager of Bruno’s, said the increases are based on escalating market prices — what it’s costing Bruno’s to provide the services to the town. Three years ago, Bruno’s was paid $35 per ton to dispose of the collected recycling as a state incentive to increase recycling. Last year, the policy changed, and Bruno’s was no longer paid for the recycling, but disposal was free. Now, the company is charged $35 per ton of recycling, and next month the price will increase to $45, he said.

“It was great when the taxpayer wasn’t getting any bill for the recycling, but at some point that’s just not realistic when the product isn’t getting paid for and it doesn’t have any value,” Mr. Goulart said in a phone call Wednesday. “It can’t be done for free.”

But, he said, he tried to keep the price increases to a minimum.

“I’m really proud of what we came up with for a solution to a bad situation,” Mr. Goulart told selectmen Tuesday. “We took a lot of time and effort to work on this … We know it’s the right thing to do — it’s environmentally correct — but at the same time, we have to survive too.”

Town administrator Jay Grande said the contract is worthwhile because it provides curbside collection services to residents who might otherwise have no options.

“This does guarantee service to some of our roadways that might not otherwise receive private service because of their remoteness or location — roadways that are not paved, or dirt pathways,” he said. “I know some of them get access to this service because this contract exists.”

Mr. Grande added that the contract prices are competitive in comparison with other proposals. “Fortunately, they came in very competitive, and we’re happy about that,” he said.

Several people in the audience were in favor of the contract. Town finance manager Jon Snyder, speaking as a consumer, said he uses a private service for his own home, and Bruno’s service for his rental home. He said both generate similar amounts of garbage and recycling, but “the costs to provide this service, to me, is easily twice what the cost of the town service is.”

“I think what that speaks to is, yes, we have kept prices low for a very, very long time, and in a free market, the cost of providing the same service would be considerably higher,” he said.

Josh Goldstein, manager of the Mansion House hotel, said he recently had to start paying for recycling for his business. “It came as quite a shock, and I made a phone call to our provider and said, ‘What’s going on?’” he said. “The simple answer was, the drop in petroleum prices makes it cheaper to make a new plastic bottle than it is to recycle the old one.”

He said to pay $125 so his 2-year-old nephew has a nice place to grow up in is important. “I think it would be worth the increase,” he said. “I would support it.”

Tisbury selectmen Tristan Israel supported the contract, but advocated for implementing a system that allows people to pay the $125 recycling sticker price over several payments. Mr. Goulart said he was willing to offer that.

Selectmen approved the contract subject to review and approval by town counsel.