NEWPORT – When the Newport selectmen voted early this year to charge commercial rubbish haulers the entire tipping fee per ton previously paid by the town, it was a move intended to save money at the facility. With an annual budget of nearly $300,000, the transfer station was a dinosaur: unsightly, inefficient and costing too much money.
The selectmen’s desires have come true, said Town Manager James Ricker on Thursday. Cost cutting measures have saved an estimated $30,000 this year and enabled renovations to begin at the facility.
For the first time in its 20-year history, the transfer station is getting a face-lift, Ricker said. “We’ve taken a good operation and made it better,” he said.
Hanging baskets of brilliant petunias adorn the manager’s outbuilding, a small flower garden brightens up the recycling center and a visitor would be hard-pressed to find a piece of litter.
Ricker credits “the hard work of the employees” for the clean, neat appearance that will provide a background for the many new improvements underway.
The entire dirt surface at the station is being excavated because it turned to mud each rainy season. With the money saved on tipping fees, the entire area will be paved. “This has been the source of many, many complaints,” said Ricker. Once paved, the manager joked “people will be able to get in and get out in the same day.”
Once the excavated areas settle, concrete approaches will be installed at the compaction units. One of the compactors is being rebuilt.
A set of scales will be installed later this summer to monitor rubbish totals, while the compost area will be expanded.
Ricker said Troy Chipman was hired this spring as the facility’s supervisor and he was charged with streamlining the facility and cleaning up the grounds. Two part-time workers were also hired, said Ricker, to increase the three-person full-time workforce.
This year about $63,000 more than usual was spent beefing up and repairing the facility. He said $32,000 of that was the cost of the scales.
The renovations and paving mirror unanimous support offered at the June special town meeting. “Fix it up when you get the money, they told us,” said Ricker. “That is what we are doing. There may be a few small projects left for next year, but the majority of the work will be done this year.”
The construction has been inconvenient for those using the transfer station but all work should be completed by early fall, he said.