By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN
GILFORD — The recycling center on Kimball Road could become a full-fledged solid waste transfer station, with the first step being approval of a request for $45,000 to pay for the design, permits and cost estimate next month, saving waste disposal costs.
The town's Solid Waste Committee is recommending the the passage of that warrant article.
The request comes in the wake of the findings of the four-person committee that realized single-stream recycling is costing the town $150 per load to remove, or $60 more than household or solid waste does.
"We're ultimately trying to reduce the cost of waste disposal to the taxpayers," said Selectman Richard "Rags" Grenier, who sat on the committee.
In the short term, the report addresses mainly the recycling center, which is the only facility Gilford has.
The town partners with Laconia for solid waste, and Gilford residents either pay a private hauler or take their garbage to the Meredith Center Road in Laconia for disposal.
The town of Gilford owes the city of Laconia about $66,000, which is its cost of the upgrades done some years ago to the Laconia facility. The town pays the city by allocating its portion of revenues paid by residents either directly to the city or through the haulers and Gilford anticipates the debt will be paid in full by July 1, 2018.
Gilford pays $50 per ton to Laconia for solid waste disposal, said the final committee report, but the actual cost is $90 per ton, meaning the town offsets about 50 percent of its garbage disposal costs with taxes. In addition, the town has no way of knowing if all the trash brought to Laconia is really from Gilford residents.
Right now, the tipping fee for the trash that flows through Laconia is $68 a ton, which is considered stable and below market rates.
Gilford spent about $164,828 operating its recycling center in 2004 and collected $13,742 in fees for acceptance and sales of recycled products. The town also accepts mixed trash and recyclables for island properties at no cost to the residents but it costs the town about $4,500 annually.
In the short term, said Grenier, the goal is to make the recycling facility at Gilford more efficient. He said residents are now separating their cardboard from the rest of their recyclables and the town is looking at grants for a baling machine at approximately $15,000, a glass crusher for about $11,000, and temporary storage bins for about $3,000.
Rags also said the town people are taking good advantage of the free compost and beginning next year will be able to purchase screened compost from the recycling center.
He said they also brought in a crusher for all of the old pavement and were able to generate 110,000 tons of material the town Department of Public Works can use for certain road projects.
In the long run, town officials hope the study will provide the answers they seek as to whether it will continue in its relationship with Laconia and the Concord Regional Solid Waste Resource Recovery Cooperative, which has a contract with Waste Management through November 2019.
The study mentions that the site where the recycling facility is now is big enough for a transfer station but said the "town may also wish to consider asking the voters if they want to construct their own facility as a means of gaining a sense of independence with regards to trash disposal."