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Selectmen vote to raise fees at DRC

By Jason Poole

Reminder Correspondent

WILBRAHAM Members of the Wilbraham Solid Waste Advisory Board met with the Board of Selectmen on Tuesday evening to discuss options for raising enough money to meet the operating budget of the Disposal and Recycling Center (DRC).

The Advisory Board recommended that vehicle sticker prices should be raised to $100 with a $15 discount for seniors. They also recommended that the price for a bag should be raised to $2.25.

"Every time we raise the price, it tends to lower the amount of people willing to use the recycling center, I am looking for a permanent fix," Selectman David W. Barry said .

For the past three years, the number of residents using the DRC has dropped consistently, from 3,069 people in 2003 to 2,735 people in 2005. The Advisory Board expects to lose another 200 customers this year.

The Advisory Board presented multiple options to try and raise the number of customers using the DRC, including allowing residents from other towns, such as Palmer and Monson, access to the DRC.

"I am concerned with the fallout of competing with other communities for trash business. I want to make sure we aren't doing something to another town that we would yell and scream about if they did to us," Barry said.

The idea of giving people a free one day pass to the DRC and giving them a guided tour and a pamphlet explaining the benefits of recycling was another idea discussed to try and bring in new customers.

The Advisory Board is planning to study the potential options for bringing new customers to the DRC and report back to the Selectmen at a date to be determined.

The Selectmen voted to accept the Advisory Board's recommendation and raise the price of stickers and trash bags. Selectman James E. Thompson did not vote for the rate increase because he believed that all of the options for cutting expenses at the DRC had not been looked at thoroughly and therefore he could not support a rate increase.

The bag rate increase will take effect on July 1, while the rate increase for the stickers will not take effect until September.

The Board of Selectmen also met with Recreation Director Bryan Litz to officially thank him for his actions at Spec Pond on May 17, when he rescued a young boy who was struggling in the water.

"Public service was above and beyond the call of duty that day, on behalf of all the residents of Wilbraham, we thank you," Selectman Kevin J. Moriarty said.

The young boy was on a paddle boat that was taking on water when Litz entered the water.

"I appreciate how fast the Police and Fire department got there," he added.

Employees of DB Mart and Louis and Clark were also on hand to explain to the Board why a 16-year-old boy was able to purchase cigarettes at each store without being asked for identification.

It was the first offense for both stores, and therefore the Selectmen gave them only a warning. Further infractions can result in fines and a possible suspension of their tobacco sales license.