Autumn hours for compost facility

Bethlehem will open station on Saturdays at a cost of $600 per day

— Bethlehem officials are reopening the town Compost Facility for several Saturdays this fall after receiving inquiries from residents.

Interim Highway Superintendent Erik Deyoe said he recommends opening the facility for six Saturdays in September and October so material can be purchased for the fall gardening season. The change is expected to cost the town about $600 per day for an equipment operator and booth attendant at the site.

“The costs could possibly be offset,” said Deyoe at a Wednesday, Aug. 28, meeting of the Town Board. “It’s hard to tell.”

As part of the 2013 town budget, hours were cut back at the facility to three days a week and the season now ends June 30. Rates were also changed for material, and a $2 charge wasinstituted for shoveling material.

The projected savings from the changes was $50,000.

Deyoe said total sales during this season totaled more than $68,000. Accounting for labor and equipment, actual revenue was about $5,000 less then projected.

After reviewing the changes, Deyoe said many residents and staff found the new price structure too complicated; residents want more access to the facility; the $2 fee was unpopular; and contractors want a place to dispose of waste. The department eventually placed a large receptacle outside so waste could be dropped off early without having it sit curbside until it was picked up by town staff.

Deyoe said department staff is looking into an automated kiosk for the future, which would allow residents limited access to the facility without needing to pay an employee. They are also hoping to get restrictions on the property removed so the town can eventually compost food waste and create additional landscaping products.

For next year, it was recommended the town no longer charge residents the $2 shoveling fee, simplify the price structure and eliminate the sale of wood chips due to the intrusion of the Emerald Ash Borer.

The facility would continue to operate three days each week through June.

Town Board members said they were in favor of these changes. Residents will soon be notified of the dates the compost facility will open this fall.

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