Naugatuck officials ponder end to CRRA’s contract

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NAUGATUCK — For 20 years, the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority has received and weighed the borough’s trash. Now the borough is weighing whether to continue with the agency.

Along with all but one of the municipalities in the quasi-public agency’s Mid-Connecticut Project, the borough’s contract with the CRRA expires Nov. 15, 2012.

The agency is asking its current customers to renew their contracts or sign up for a new plan by July 1. After then, if capacity allows, municipalities could have until the date their contracts end to sign up for a shorter-term, costlier plan.

“It’s a complicated topic,” Mayor Robert A. Mezzo said. “It could have long-term impacts for future budgets. We certainly want to get the best deal for the borough without sacrificing options in an ever-changing marketplace.”

This year, municipalities pay $69 per ton to dispose of its trash and recyclables at the agency’s Watertown transfer station. The agency pays municipalities rebates for each ton of recyclables received, at a rate this year of $5 per ton.

The agency is offering two 15-year contract options that reduce tipping fees to $61 per ton in the first year. A five-year contract costs $63 per ton in the first year and a three-year contract costs $65 per ton.

The agreements also vary on minimum tonnage commitments, tonnage caps, service fees or service discounts, “opt-out” provisions, uniform pricing commitments and eligibility for recycling rebates. All the contract options provide for a 6.5 cent disposal rate increase for every 10-cent increase in the price of diesel fuel after it hits $5 per gallon.

CRRA was able to lower its rates because it has reduced administrative costs and hired a more-cost effective facility contractor, Development Manager Ron Gingerich said. The agency, which faced financial ruin after the 2001 Enron bankruptcy, will pay off its bonds next year, Gingerich said.

Alternatively, the borough could consider depositing waste at trash-to-energy plants in Wallingford, Bridgeport or a proposed plant in Ansonia, said Sheila Baummer, the borough’s recycling and solid waste coordinator. The borough could also consider joining the Central Connecticut Solid Waste Authority or Connecticut Waste Transfer.

All the borough’s other options are privately owned companies, Burgess Anthony R. Campbell pointed out, making them less likely to adjust disposal fees downwards as CRRA does when its costs decrease.

“They’re all out there to make money,” Campbell said.

Last year, CRRA charged the borough $627,900 for dumping 9,100 tons of trash. The agency recently gave the borough a $7,383 rebate for depositing nearly 1,477 tons of recyclables.