Hartford Won’t Curb Recycling

Funding for Pick-up Service Extended Another 6 Months

White River Junction — Curbside recycling, which had been on a list of proposed cuts, will live on in Hartford, for a while anyway.

The Selectboard voted last night to fund $75,000 for the town’s free program, which carry the program through the end of the calendar year.

Town Manager Hunter Rieseberg had recommended the program, which between 40 and 45 percent of eligible Hartford households use, be cut entirely. That proposed move would have freed up $150,000 in the town’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2014, which begins July 1.

“Don’t misconstrue my recommendation not to fund it, that we don’t believe it’s worthwhile,” Rieseberg said during last night’s budget workshop meeting. “But something’s got to give.”

The six months of funding would act as a bridge to the implementation in 2014 of Act 148, a statewide solid waste law that was adopted last year that could increase the number of private trash haulers that offer curbside recycling.

“It’s safe to say that things are going to be different starting next year,” Rieseberg said, “because of Act 148.”

The town’s recycling program is provided biweekly in Hartford by Northeast Waste Services, and it is paid for by taxpayers. Those who don’t opt into the program have the option to transport their recyclables to the town’s transfer station or contract privately.

When the Act 148 goes into effect, Rieseberg said, average waste-hauling charges are expected rise by about $16 a month to take into account the garbage haulers’ increased workload.

To gauge public interest in the town’s recycling program, Selectboard Vice Chairman F.X. Flinn created an online survey earlier this week that he sent out to residents on the Listserve. Last night, he said the survey recorded 200 responses.

Many of them, he said, indicated they wanted to keep the curbside recycling.

“There are a lot of people who feel that the recycling program says that ‘Hey, we’re Vermont, we’re green, so it’s an important part of the image we project,’ ” Flinn explained.

“There’s a lot of support for this,” he said. “I think it would be a mistake for us to take it out of the budget at this point in the budget process.”

The vote was 5-1 in favor of a budget proposal that cuts the full-year funding to six months at a cost of $75,000. Selectman Simon Dennis was the sole dissenting vote.

The board settled on the half-year funding idea even though there was uncertainty whether the state mandate would actually kick in at the beginning of next year. If that turns out to be the case, and there’s still desire to fund the program, Selectboard Chairman Ken Parker said the required money could be pulled from a reserve fund.

“I don’t want to fund the whole thing for a year and find out Jan. 1 that there’s a law that goes into effect, and the $75,000 could have gone somewhere else,” Parker said.

Jon Wolper can be reached at jwolper@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.