A morning on fast forward

You know what’s awesome? Watching the Board of Selectmen meeting on DVR over your Cheerios with the ability to fast forward so everyone looks like they’re in an old-time whacky comedy reel. You just need some peppy music that ends in a trombone “wah-wah” to set the mood or, alternately, the ability to hear what they’re saying so the presentation on recycling rates (more on that later) sounds like it was done by eco-friendly chipmunks.

You know what’s even more awesome? Waking up to find out your blog got its first Universal Hub mention and your stats counter is already halfway to your final count from yesterday.

But even awesomer, and slightly scary? The news that we’re getting six additional people Christmas Day — my brother-in-law’s family, all the way from Utah — and that includes four nieces, two gorgeous teenageers and twin toddlers! I have to go child-proof my house (do we still own a baby gate?) and make sure only the cool music is in the CD rack!

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14 thoughts on “A morning on fast forward

  1. Sometimes I wish there were a thing called DVR-RT (real time). Actually good things came out of last night’s meeting:

    1. Snowplow contracts (signed, sealed and with the right insurance) before the snow flies! This was an issue last year;
    2. Increased recycling initiatives by the Committee appear to be having some impact – trash volume down, recycling volume up. Stay tuned as PAYT is looming;
    3. Established a broad-based Committee to provide oversight and management to the development of the Grafton Town House (One Grafton Common) and agreed to sign a Letter of Intent to enter a long-term lease with Apple Tree Arts for class and performance space. If interested in Committee membership – there are 3 At-large positions – watch the G’News for instructions on how to apply; and
    4. Approved the Illicit Discharge By-law – a federal mandate prohibiting the discharge of anything but clean groundwater to the storm drain system – time to give Stormwater Management another shot!

    A school building committee update – the Committee meets this Thursday night to interview 3 candidates for OPM (Owner’s Project Manager) to oversee the Feasibility Study. We pick our top, then forward to MSBA for final review and approval. With any luck we transition quickly into the RFS for the Designer/Engineering firm to actually do the study.

    Mary Ann

  2. PAYT is looming…thank god! Saving municipal money & encouraging recycling are worthy causes that we should all support!

  3. I never understood why we didn’t get PAYT a year ago. It seemed like we got very close and then it just went away.

  4. Michael,
    Not sure if I agree with your statement.

    How is paying more taxes (essentially this fee is a tax) “saving municipal money” hence the name “Pay” as you Throw. Call me old-fashioned, but I just like paying for my trash through my property taxes. Soon, I’ll be likely paying another yearly fee, on top of the one I have to pay for my kids to ride the bus. Then I still have to buy those dreadful bags.

    I’m a big proponent of recycling, so I guess I won’t have to buy many bags. But what’s next…a fee from the fire dept if my house burns down?

  5. If you think PAYT is a good idea, how about this for size:
    If you are a family of two your trash output is small no big deal. If your a family of five your trash output is larger and its a bid deal. Why should this PAY AS YOU THROW save money to the home owner. The tax rate will not reduce from the offset and families will end up paying more for a service we already are paying for.
    I guess another argument is why not have P.A.Y.E. called PAY AS YOU EDUCATE, where we who have students in school end up paying for each student to go to school, so the people who dont have kids in school end up not having to contribute. Oh yea that will go over like a F@RT in church!

    This whole Pay as you do anything is an unfair method to avoid 2 1/2 override. Mom of 3 is right this is taxation and it is hitting us twice and for us that have familys will now have to pay more as by law of nature will end up generating more refuse. This is an unfair fee as a taxation.
    Sooner or later we will be PAYDA PAY AS YOU DO ANYTHING… oh wait were almost their, lets go for the slam dunk!
    Just please tell me what will you do with the money that the town saves from the offset, what pocket is that going into? DPW, School, please tell us WHERE!!!!!!

  6. It will be interesting to see how the PAYT program is structured. Currently, we are obligated by contract to pay out about $500k for the next 5 yrs to our hauler. So if there are about 7,000 households (i’m not sure of the exact number) that’s about $71/household per year to cover that expense.

    In addition to the $500k/year, we also have to pay Wheelabrator in Auburn for how much trash we dump there every week. That can run the town upwards of $350-400k. that’s about another $55/yr per household. But this number is the one we can lower as a community by recycling. So maybe in a perfect world, you might see a community recycling 40%, so now this number is down to about $200k/yr per household or $28/yr per household.

    It’s all a numbers game. Does the town simply want to recoup some of the expenses tied to trash hauling or do they want to “generate revenue” (i hate that expression) raise our taxes to pay for other budget items.

    Gov’t shouldn’t be in the mode of “generating revenue”. Save that for the businesses.

    Gov’t collects taxes.
    Taxes pay for our necessities.
    End of story.

  7. Even though PAYT is basically a usage fee, I don’t dispute that it has the distinct flavor of a tax. But I don’t care. And we should pay it, because trash disposal is a town service we collectively choose to have and the implementation of PAYT WILL ensure it is efficient and thereby decrease our costly non-recyclable refuse (cause we’re all greedy bastards when it comes down to it).

    To the other point about the other town fees…like getting a bus to school or a club fee…I think this is different…and quite frankly, it angers me that we effectively are charging families to attend public schools. Unlike chucking your trash out on the curb and having it conveniently picked up by a stinky truck, it IS fundamental to everything we stand for as citizens that all our children are entitled equal access to public school education, and a usage fee = regardless of economic, racial, etc etc – is an impediment that fundamental right.

    Out with school fees, IN with PAYT!

  8. As landfill space continues to decrease, alternative means in which to dispose of trash will take on greater importance in the coming years. Places such as Wheelabrator have not provided significant savings to municipalities over traditional disposal methods. Thus, trash tipping fees will continue to increase, forcing cities and towns to find other measures in which to pay for and control these costs.

    PAYT is one option which can control costs and encourage people to recycle more. I certainly agree with Michael that it has the flavor of a tax but it is one in which an individual has some control over what they pay.

    I also respectfully disagree with Mom of 3 about governments not being in the revenue generating business. With the real possibility of drastic cuts in local aid from the state, cities and towns will face even more pressure to find alternative means of funding or be forced to make draconian cuts in services. One example is in Wellesley where they bale their recyclables and sell them on the open market. By selling their baled recyclables, Wellesley generated $458K in additional revenue for FY07. This went back into their general fund to offset other costs.

    I know this was long but thanks for listening.

  9. I am catching up on reading. I love this blog and congrats on going Universal, Jenn.

    First, I appreciate the update from Mary Ann regarding happenings on the BOS front. Being a new Verizon FIOS customer, I don’t get public access quite yet so my days of zipping through the DVR’d meetings are on hold for a while. I think getting a summary of meetings is a great idea. Wouldn’t that be great on the school side too? Like what steps the teachers are taking now? Are they cutting back their service to our children still? Are they changing any classroom practices, homework, extra help etc?

    Second, PAYT seems like a good idea to me since even the threat of it caused us to be even more careful about our recycling habits. They were already pretty good. Our family of 4 usually has 1 bag of trash a week, sometimes two. I’d like to get this down further. Like what is the best way to deal with shredded paper? Overall, yes it is increased revenue for the town and before I agree to it, I too would like to see where the revenue is going to go with no changes once it is agreed upon. This information needs to be very clear and thought through before taxpayers will see the benefit to it. I think having an active recycling committee is a good move. Mary Ann-have we looked into other options like Wellesley’s program? Ways to turn our recyclables into money?

    Lastly, Michael and I see eye to eye on the school fees. I know they are a real possibility and we need something to offset cuts but boy they upset me. I just see families without the resources to allow their child to play a sport or an instrument, be in the theater etc or families who have to make tough choices and that would be the expense they can cut out of their budget. We need to be creative in keeping these great programs in place so that all kids can participate. I know of a high schooler who walks to school from a good distance because his family chose not to pay the bus fee. I say chose because I do not know the family or their circumstances–only heard it secondhand. Now I am sure had they inquired there could’ve been something they could do so he could ride the bus but for whatever reason he is walking. Again, I don’t know all the details but it is awful to see this teenager with no coat that fits walking to school.

    I am on to read about our current non ADA compliant library…

  10. With empty space becoming available at some of our smaller buildings (South Grafton library etc) perhaps we can use that space to have a small thift store. I’m thinking something similiar to the one near Koopman’s. People can recycle usable items. The money can go back to the town to support the food bank, the heating assistance program or perhaps even the kids who cannot afford the bus/activity fees. I am sure there are enough groups in Grafton who could volunteer to staff it on a part time basis. It would put a good building back into service for the town rather than standing empty.

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