|Solid Waste District Considers Accepting North Adams |
|By Jack Guerino, iBerkshires Staff|
02:40AM / Monday, June 17, 2019
|The waste district board discusses the potential of the city of North Adams rejoining the district after 30 years.|
ADAMS, Mass. — Northern Berkshire Solid Waste Management has entered into conversations with North Adams about rejoining the district.
Williamstown representative Tim Kaiser told the commission Thursday that he and program director Linda Cernik have met with city officials about re-entering the district.
"At the request of the city we had a meeting ... and they are interested in rejoining the district," Kaiser said. "They expressed that they have the capability of running pretty much all of their operations now but they are weak in areas that they feel we are strong in."
Kaiser said the city is specifically interested in the coordinated events, outreach, and educational opportunities the district offers. The waste district had come up at a city Public Services Committee meeting in May about composting and education. He did not see a downside at this point and noted that if North Adams were to join, it would become the district's largest member.
"I have looked at it a little bit and I am seeing some possible upsides to it and I haven't really seen a downside," he said. "At our current per capita rate that would raise $27,700 from the city and proportionally decrease everyone else's share."
He said another positive is that the 38 percent increase would strengthen the district's buying power, which will be important with contracts expiring in 2020.
"We are coming up to a year where we have to do a contract for MSW [Municipal Solid Waste] and recycling and we know it is going to hurt," he said. "I think the additional buying power will help offset ... we will be more attractive to most firms."
He did add that if North Adams were to rejoin there most likely would be future additional appropriations.
Windsor representative Doug McNally said he thought the idea was worth exploring but noted they may want to lock down certain assurances from the city -- such as hosting collection events and aiding with administrative duties.
"I think we have to make sure to get them to commit as the largest member and be willing to be a site for events," he said. "They are large enough where they could handle a lot of this and they have the personnel and so forth."
Cernik said there seemed to be a willingness on the city's part to chip in.
The conversation then shifted to how the city would rejoin and only a few members could recall when North Adams left in the late 1980s.
It was agreed upon that there seemed to be a conflict in "personalities" between the past city administration and the district.
Kaiser added that a lot has changed in the plus-30 years when North Adams has been on its own.
"Whatever the reasons were for at that time besides personalities we as a district were going in an entirely different direction than we are now," he said. "In those days we were going to take control of all the trash in the communities and be the authority ... that is not where we are now."
Adams representative Ed Driscoll recommended that the district's attorney take a look at the bylaws to figure out for sure how North Adams would re-enter.
He said he did remember some stipulations and recalled one rule that states a rejoining community would have to pay a proportional amount based on capital improvements the district has made.
Treasurer Terry Haig also had concerns about the city joining mid-fiscal year but it was agreed upon that North Adams could just pay a pro-rated fee.
The board did vote to create a subcommittee to help hammer out the details with the city. Cernik, Kaiser, McNally, and Driscoll will sit on the committee along with Adams selectman and liaison to the district James Bush.
McNally said he did not anticipate a confrontational meeting they may have expected in the past.
"I don't think this is going to be adversarial because the mayor is really trying to re-engage North Adams," he said. "He is really trying to take down this border around North Adams."