December 10, 2013

Farmington to discontine contract with Sandy River Recycling

Selectmen will start negotiations with Archie’s Inc., based in Mexico for sorted and single-stream recyclables.

By Kaitlin Schroeder kschroeder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

FARMINGTON — Selectmen unanimously voted to discontinue their contract with Sandy River Recycling Association Tuesday evening.

Selectmen agreed to start negotiations with Archie’s Inc., based in the town of Mexico, to take over recycling at no cost to Farmington. According to Archie’s proposal, the company wouldn’t charge an annual fee to the town for sorted recyclables and would charge only about $1 per bag to customers if the town wants a single-stream recycling option.

The future of a Farmington-based recycling nonprofit group is uncertain because the town is the group’s largest customer.

The association, which serves 18 central Maine communities, increased its fees overall by 31 percent last year and projected its fees would continue to increase in the upcoming budget cycle. The fee increases are the result of a decrease in prices for recyclable materials, along with a decline in local recycling and competition from the single-stream recycling industry.

Jo Josephson, the association’s outgoing president, said it is uncertain at this point what losing its largest customer will mean for the nonprofit.

She said the board, made up of volunteers from the communities it serves, meets the third week of January and will discuss the implications of the decision.

After the board’s vote, Josephson thanked the selectmen for their consideration of the information presented by the association.

“Your decision is not unexpected,” she said.

Representatives from the nonprofit previously had said they had taken every measure to keep costs low to the towns, including nearly depleting its $300,000 reserve fund over the past few years to offset costs.

Town Manager Richard Davis said the most will be facing the most difficult budget cycle he has ever seen in the upcoming year because of the loss of municipal revenue sharing, and he can’t justify contracting with the association when the town has a no-cost option with Archies.

He said he commended the assoication for more than 20 years of service and said the decision was not out of disatisfaction with the town’s relationship with the nonprofit.

The Sandy River Recycling Association began in 1990 in response to recycling legislation that was passed with the goal of increasing recycling to 25 percent of the state’s municipal solid waste by 1991 and 50 percent by 1994.

Statewide recycling rates were 17 percent in 1990 and had increased to 35 percent, according to the association’s website.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252 kschroeder@centralmaine.com
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