Recycling key to funding?

By Lisa Williams Ackley
Staff Writer

A unique brainstorming idea by Bridgton Selectman Paul Hoyt is being praised this week by his fellow selectmen and others as a superior act of creative problem solving.

Thanks to the innovative idea thought up by Selectman Hoyt, the town may save money by reducing its solid waste flow and increasing its rate of recycling — and two local organizations that are seeing funding cuts from the town this year may reap the benefits of Hoyt’s plan by helping to further educate the public on the need to recycle more.

“My thought was to get the Community Center and the Library together on a campaign to work for recycling,” Hoyt said, at the May 10 selectmen’s meeting. “If we can increase our recycling (rate) from 30% to 40%, that amount would be split between the two organizations. This would come about next year.”

In a memo to the board of selectmen dated May 3, Town Manager Mitch Berkowitz said that, following the last selectmen’s meeting, “Paul Hoyt developed a very creative plan that would educate the citizens of Bridgton regarding recycling and, if successfully executed, would also provide some financial incentives to both the Bridgton Community Center (Center) and the Bridgton Public Library (Library) for Fiscal Year 2013. Preliminary discussions with both entities indicate a strong willingness to develop details of such a plan.”

Berkowitz then offered a concept outline that requests the selectmen’s authorization “to meet with and develop the details which would then be subject to all Boards’ approval before any implementation,” meaning all three boards — the selectmen, the Library’s trustees and the Community Center’s board of directors.

Concept outline

The town manager then presented an outline of the concept that will bring the plan to fruition. Berkowitz stated, “The Center and Library would work closely together to develop and closely together to develop and implement a year-long public educational program targeted at getting our recycling (tons) up from the current year. If successful, the town would then provide to each entity a financial increase to their FY 13 budget based upon an agreed to formula. The funding would come from the increased amounts of recyclables and the reduced amount of MSW (municipal solid waste) at the rate of $88 per ton, the charge by ecomaine to the town. Each entity would then split the savings based upon a percentage.”

“The following is only an example of how this might work,” according to Berkowitz: 2011 Amount Recycled — 625 tons; 2011 Amount of MSW — 2,115 tons; 2012 Recycled — 650 tons; 2012 MSW — 2,090 tons. Change by tons recycled 25 tons X $88 = $2,200 X 50% = $1,100 to be split 50/50 with each, the Center and the Library (or other percentage agreed to).”

Win-win

“All parties win in this proposal, and the more that is recycled and the decrease of MSW verifies some of this success, the taxpayers also benefit,” Town Manager Berkowitz stated. “In this example, the town saves $1,100 up front and shows a higher amount recycled.”

“We see this program (public-private partnership) running for two years which would impact the FY 2013 and FY 2014 budgets and reset the baseline amounts to those new balances after this program is over,” said Berkowitz.

Berkowitz said the next step would be for the selectmen to endorse the concept, authorize the town manager and Selectman Hoyt to meet with and negotiate the details of a Memorandum of Understanding with each organization (the Library and Community Center) and bring that back to the board of selectmen for approval and implementation effective upon signing by all parties.

Selectman Hoyt said of his proposed plan, “They (Community Center and Library) get to share in it — it’s a win-win for them, also — people would continue to recycle.”

Mahlon Johnson, who serves as Bridgton’s representative to ecomaine and sits on the Bridgton Recycling Committee, said of Hoyt’s plan, “I call that a fresh idea!”

Selectman Woody Woodward also praised Hoyt’s idea, stating, “I was extremely impressed — it gets away from the normal way of doing things (which has typically been) by cutting budgets or services.”

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