By RUSSELL JONES
The Brandon Selectboard discussed reopening contract negotiations with the company that runs the transfer station in Brandon, as well as wetlands reclassification, at a recent meeting.
The select board heard good news about the transfer station in that the company running the transfer waste station has paid the back rent owed to the town, but questions are still open as to whether the town will reopen negotiations with the firm or possibly have the town take over operations of the transfer station.
Back in April, the company operating the transfer station, Earth Waste and Metal, asked the selectboard to address problems at the facility. At the heart of the matter was a broken scale used to weigh large loads and poor conditions of the building.
In a letter sent to the town’s selectboard last month, company spokesperson Stephanie Elnicki said that the company has been running the facility for 15 years and considered the rent they paid to be in exchange for the infrastructure. They had not paid rent on the property since December and the letter stated they would consider reinstating the rental portion of the agreement once the town increased its budget to improve the building and fix the scales.
The selectboard did not agree to those terms and selectman Doug Bailey said he was highly offended with the company withholding rent.
At the selectboard meeting on Monday, May 13, Town Manager Dave Atherton told the board that the company has paid the back rent in full. Selectman Tim Guiles met with the company and discussed the problems at the facility, which is located on 31 Corona Street.
“They do want a new scale and I believe they are open to negotiating the contract,” Guiles said. “I think we should use the scale as a carrot to reopen the contract negotiations.”
Atherton said the contract between the town and the company is fuzzy in certain areas.
“We thought last year, when we signed the new one, that there were large holes in that contract,” he said. “I think we should try to reopen that.”
Selectman Tracy Wyman said that he would be open to renegotiating the contract, but emphasized he “can’t go along with offering the scales.”
The board also discussed the possibility of the town taking over and running the transfer station. Guiles spoke with Gabe McGuinn, a representative with the Rutland County Solid Waste District, about this possibility. Guiles thought the road crew could run the station and the town would be able to offer services that the company currently doesn’t.
“I was dead-set against the town taking over running it,” Atherton said later, “but the more talks we’ve had, I’m starting to rethink it.”
Atherton said there have been complaints about the company charging $2.50 a bag for recycling. Bailey added that if the recycling were not affordable, people would stop doing it. The board will have Guiles and Bailey continue discussions with the company regarding the pricing and reopening contract negotiations.
CHANGE IN WETLANDS PROPOSED The board also heard a presentation from district wetlands ecologist, Zapata Courage, regarding a move to reclassify the Otter Creek wetlands from a Class II wetlands to Class I. The board will send Atherton and board chair Seth Hopkins to the steering committee meetings to ensure the town has a voice in the proceedings. Look for a follow-up report on this issue in The Reporter next week.