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Mar 11, 2009 1:40 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Transfer stations to shut down one day a week, for now

Mar 11, 2009 1:40 PM

Residents who cart their trash and recyclables to the Southampton Town transfer stations in Sag Harbor and Westhampton will soon have one less day to do so.

The two dumps will shut down once a week, either on Wednesdays or Thursdays, from April 1 through Memorial Day, in an effort to cut costs and reduce the $2 million deficit in the Waste Management Fund. The closures will basically serve as a test period to see how the stations operate on a shortened schedule.

Town Supervisor Linda Kabot said the Town Board will review the policy at the end of the trial and consider whether to continue it through the summer season.

The board voted unanimously in favor of the move at its meeting Tuesday.

According to Ms. Kabot, Commissioner of Public Works Bill Masterson, who oversees the Waste Management Department, expressed concern that the high volume of “self-haulers” in Sag Harbor may require that transfer station to remain open seven days a week during the busy months of July, August and early September. Councilwoman Sally Pope said she has the same concerns about the Westhampton station.

“We should go forward with this, then modify it later” Ms. Kabot said. “We have to do something. Money is leaking out. ... Few people are using these facilities. Most are using private companies.”

Last month, Paul DiMaria, the town’s environmental facilities manager, said cutting back the seven-day-a-week operating schedule would help solve staffing issues at the stations and would cut down on costs. How much the town might hope to save in manpower and utility costs has not yet been determined.

Mr. DiMaria said the stations are currently understaffed.

Initially, Ms. Kabot considered closing the stations two days a week, but opted to go with one day after discussing the issue with the Town Board on Tuesday.

Mr. Masterson will meet with the Town Board in the coming weeks to decide which closure day is the most practical for his department. Once that determination is made, Ms. Kabot said the town will post signs at the facilities, publish notices in the local media and issue advisories to those using the stations.

The $2 million deficit in the Waste Management Department accumulated between 2003 and 2007, Ms. Kabot said. During that time, money from the general fund was used to fund waste operations. This year, the department is only funded through June. In drafting her 2009 budget, Ms. Kabot allocated $750,000 from the general fund balance to help subsidize Waste Management operations. Another $750,000 in the tax stabilization fund is available to put toward Waste Management if the Town Board chooses to tap into it.

Unlike other departments that are funded through property taxes, Waste Management generates its revenue through user fees for those disposing their trash at the stations.

Ms. Kabot has also discussed the possibility of privatizing some Waste Management functions and said that taxes may have to be raised in order to fund the department for 2010.

In other financial news, Town Councilwoman Nancy Graboski on Tuesday proposed increasing fines for some parking regulations. The Town Board set a public hearing for Tuesday, March 24 at 6 p.m. to discuss the proposal.

According to Ms. Graboski, some of the current penalties for parking infractions are insufficient deterrents to stop violators and she would like to see those fines increased. For those who park illegally in “designated locations” or on private property, Ms. Graboski would like to see a $25 hike from the current $50 to $75. For those who unlawfully park in “permit only areas,” the councilwoman would like to raise the fine from $50 to $100.

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Sally Pope is right to believe that the Westhampton transfer station will need to be open every day during the summer. That Bill Masterson could express such concern about Sag Harbor and omit Westhampton, and that Linda Kabot could say that few people are using these facilities, shows that neither of them knows the facts on the ground. The Westhampton transfer station is a very busy place in the warm months. Closing it for one day a week in the off-season (not two days as Ms. Kabot suggested) ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Mar 11, 09 12:27 PM
yes by all means lets hire more police and incur exorbitant pension liabilities to make sure we can give tickets to people who park their cars in the wrong place, then build expensive court buildings to railroad through all these fines, but keeping open garbage disposal sites? that's a luxury.
By davidf (325), hampton bays on Mar 11, 09 7:43 PM
What about all the Summer residents that dump their household garbage in those public gabage cans at Town boat ramps and other town facilities ?

What about all the illegal dumping of construction debris ?
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on Mar 12, 09 11:41 AM