The Saugerties transfer station will raise its fees next month, citing increased charges from the county’s Resource Recovery Agency.
Annual permit fees will increase from $25 to $30, and medium-sized (30- to 45-gallon) and contractor (55-gallon) bag fees will each go up by a dollar to $6 and $7, respectively. Other fees are unchanged.
Station manager Marie Post said users are rolling with the increases. When asked if they would mind paying extra if it meant keeping the transfer station open, people were overwhelmingly supportive, she said.
With over 4,000 permits issued annually, the Saugerties transfer station is one of the largest in the county, serving Saugerties, Woodstock and Shandaken. Transfer stations offer an alternative to private haulers, allowing individual residents to transport their own garbage and recyclables in their own vehicles. Both transfer stations and private haulers bring refuse to the county Resource Recovery Agency, whose fee increases can affect both.
Factoring in the permit and bag fees, the average monthly cost for users is about $30, according to Post. Add in the cost of gas and there isn’t much savings over curbside pickup.
But some people still prefer the transfer station.
“They like the convenience of coming there and taking their garbage when they want to take their garbage,” Post said. “And on Saturdays I think it’s a gathering place. People like to gather together.”
Each fall, budget time pits towns and their transfer stations against county government, with each side working to keep its costs down. Usually the towns lose. On one point this year they did not. The county had proposed raising its pull charges for hauling containers from the transfer stations to the RRA facility in Kingston from $43 to $62 a ton, but towns banded together and the RRA backed down.
One practice Post has campaigned (unsuccessfully) to end is county charges for recyclables. The transfer station accepts recyclables from users for free. The RRA charges the town to haul them away and sells them. She feels this is unfair to towns.
The transfer station nearly breaks even. It has an operating budget of $400,000 and brought in $395,000 in fees in 2013.
“We try to be reasonable,” said Post. “We try very hard to break even. We’re not there to gouge the public.”
Rather, as if to demonstrate where her sympathies lie, Post relates the advice she gives to users.
“I tell people to cram as much as they can in that bag. We don’t weigh the bags.”
Town Supervisor Greg Helsmoortel echoed Post’s comments when the town passed its budget recently, saying the town “did everything we could” to keep fees reasonable for residents.
Unlike other towns, the transfer station does not charge for leaves and lawn clippings. There is no charge for any metal, including aluminum windows as long as there is no glass.
To make a little extra money to help operations, the transfer station turns some of the garbage into high-quality soil and grinds old stumps into chips and mulch for landscaping. Also to that end, the transfer station plans to establish a recyclables outlet with furniture, tools and other items this coming year.
“Say you have an old chair,” said Post. “You don’t want to throw it away. Bring it in and we’ll fix it up and sell it at a reasonable cost for a donation.”
The transfer station is located at 1765 Rt. 212. It’s open Tuesday–Saturday 7 a.m.–3 p.m. Permits can be purchased on premises.