EAST PROVIDENCE — Municipalities around the state, including East Providence, have incurred an increase in charges for trash disposal and the tab is only going to grow again next year.
At the July 26 City Council meeting, City Manager Tim Chapman and Public Works Director Steve Coutu made the public aware of the increases recently implemented and planned for Fiscal Year 2018-19 by the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRRC), which operates the landfill in Johnston.
Messrs. Chapman and Coutu noted the RIRRC upped what are referred to as “tipping fees” in the trade to $39.50 per cubic ton on July 1 at the start of FY17-18 from the previous and long-standing figure of $32. Next July, the tipping fee charged to cities and towns raises another $7.50 to $47 per cubic ton of refuse delivered to the landfill.
“I guess the days of cheap garbage for cities and towns are over,” Mr. Coutu said after the meeting of the RIRRC increases. “It’s still cheaper here comparative to other places, but I gather the RIRRC no longer was willing to subsidize the cost.”
At last week’s meeting, Mr. Coutu said the FY17-18 increase would cost East Providence approximately $100,000 extra this year. However, sensing what the RIRRC was going to do, he included the uptick in tipping fees in his department’s expenditures for the city’s current FY16-17 budget. Mr. Coutu did so believing the increase could reach a whopping $54, which the RIRRC originally proposed before municipalities negotiated a more palatable figure.
“They (RIRRC) were talking about the increases last year, so I included it in our current budget, so we really won’t feel (the increase) this year,” Mr. Coutu said.
Next year and beyond, though, is when the increase to $47 could likely be felt, leaving both administrators to implore residents to pay closer attention to how they get rid of trash.
“Recycle as much as you possibly can,” Mr. Coutu said, noting municipalities are not charged fees on recyclable waste. “It will help reduce our tipping fees and offset the impact of the increase.”
Sabin Point cleanup
Mr. Chapman updated the Council of the city’s continued effort, in conjunction with state agencies, to clean up the shore at Sabin Point Park.
The city is currently using a $47,200 grant received from the Bay and Watershed Restoration Fund offered by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management in 2014 to construct a large sand filter, which will better manage stormwater runoff at the site. The project will be done by EPDW personnel under the direction of City Engineer Erik Skadberg.
In addition, the city also received a $100,000 grant from New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission, which, likewise, will help reduce stormwater flow into the park.
The ultimate aim, Mr. Chapman said, is to make Sabin Point a “swimmable” beach once more as stormwater treatment is improved and as the cleansing of the Upper Narragansett Bay continues.
The city received some good news recently from the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank, which procures monies used by municipalities for public works projects.
After refinancing existing bonds by the bank, East Providence will save some $947,000 over the course of the 15-year repayment structure on its outstanding loans for recent improvements made to the city’s water/sewer system. The city will actually receive the savings in the form of reimbursements over the length of the bond.
“It’s a great win for the city,” Mr. Chapman said last week. “It will be nice to get some of the money back each year.”
Mr. Coutu said the city’s yearly road repair plans have been slowed due to gas line upgrades being made by National Grid, though he hopes to have most of the paving done by late summer.
“We keep pushing the gas company to get the work done,” Mr. Coutu said. “Once they are, our focus is going to be wrapping our work at places like Fifth and Juniper Streets and on New Road.”
To those waiting to see some action on the city’s landmark water tower, the director asked for patience. He said interior and exterior repairs remain as scheduled to begin over the next several weeks once temperatures begin to cool and water use slows.
“It’s not going to start until most likely late September,” Mr. Coutu added. “We can’t take the water out of the tower until the summer season is over.”
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