BROOKLINE – In order to support program costs, the Town of Brookline announces an increase in sanitation program fees beginning at the start of 2021.
The Select Board adopted the fee increases recommended by the Department of Public Works and the Solid Waste Advisory Committee earlier this month.
The Brookline Department of Public Works manages a comprehensive hybrid Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) refuse and recycling program. The program serves nearly 13,200 customers each week and provides a suite of options for residents to manage household recycling, refuse, special waste, and yard waste in a manner that is efficient, convenient, environmentally sound, and prioritizes public health and safety. The PAYT program relies on refuse fee revenue to offset a portion of the total program cost. The target cost share is 75% resident fee and 25% Town tax subsidy.
Fees for the overall program have not increased in over ten years. In 2017, fees for the new PAYT program were redistributed based upon cart sizes, with nearly half of the Town’s customers realizing an annual rate reduction. The Town managed annual increases through a host of operational efficiencies and an increase in Town subsidy. The program’s current cost-share is 61% covered by the refuse fee and 39% by Town subsidy.
As part of last year’s budget process, the Town had planned on rate increases for July 2020; however, due to uncertainty at the beginning of the pandemic, the rate increase was postponed for six months. Currently, significant deficits in the Town’s overall budget have reduced the Town’s ability to support an ever-increasing subsidy and make it critical that the fees are reset to appropriately reflect and support the program’s cost. Changes in the recycling market and refuse disposal options are primary factors impacting program costs. The Town anticipates an increase of 3 percent per year over the next five years for contractual disposal and processing services.
“While raising fees is never a desired outcome, it’s a necessary one that’s been brought on by changing market conditions,” Commissioner Erin Gallentine said. “This change in the fee structure will restore our previous cost-sharing target, which had become imbalanced due to increased costs for waste processing and disposal.”
The change will be reflected in the January 2021 quarterly invoice. For example, those with a 35-gallon waste cart will be charged $57.50 on their third quarter bill.
The Solid Waste Advisory Committee (SWAC) and Town staff continue to implement operational efficiencies and look for new ways to minimize waste to control costs and reduce the Town’s collective impact on the environment. The Town has increased its efforts to promote recycling, expanded special materials management, and established a partnership with blackearthcompost.com for residents to sign-up for the curbside compost pick-up program. For more information about program services, please visit brooklinema.gov/DPW or download the new We Recycle Brookline App.