Salisbury/Sharon transfer station cost increase accepted by voters

SALISBURY/SHARON — At town meetings Wednesday, Dec. 19 and Thursday, Dec. 20, residents of Salisbury and Sharon approved appropriations of about $507,000 per town to cover the cost of building the new Salisbury-Sharon Transfer Station.

The vote (by paper ballot) in Salisbury was 57 yes votes to 9 no votes. In Sharon, the resolution was approved by unanimous voice vote by about 60 residents.

In March 2016 the two towns both voted to go ahead with what was expected to be a $3.8 million dollar facility, to be built near the New York state line off Route 44 in Lakeville. 

The primary source of funding is the federal Department of Agriculture, which is providing a package that includes a federal grant of $343,863 per town and a federal loan of $1,567,000 per town at 1.87 percent interest for a period of up to 40 years. The towns are splitting the cost of construction evenly.

Officials in both towns had hoped to build the transfer station in 2016. But several factors, including environmental concerns from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, and a lengthy public hearing process at the Salisbury Planning and Zoning Commission, pushed the date for soliciting bids back.

The low bid, from Burlington Construction, was about $1 million higher than the $3.8 million price tag.

Hence the need for an additional $507,000 per town.

At the Salisbury town meeting Dec. 19, First Selectman Curtis Rand said that the contributing factors were: the time that had elapsed since March 2016; inflation; a “revved-up economy;” and, perhaps most significantly, a 27 percent increase in the cost of steel, largely due to tariffs placed on foreign steel.

Rand said Burlington Construction has been cooperative, holding its bid past the 60-day period for acceptance, and the company has agreed to proceed on the assumption that there will be measures taken to trim some costs (via change orders) from the original design.

Rand and Sharon First Selectman Brent Colley both reminded voters that the two towns have also received a state grant of $500,000 ($250,000 per town) for the transfer station. The grant represents a little under half of the new $507,000 per town appropriation.

The towns approached the financing of the new appropriation differently.

Salisbury’s resolution was simple. Voters were asked “to approve the borrowing and/or the appropriation and expenditure of funds to build the new transfer station in an amount not to exceed $507,270.”

Rand said the town hasn’t yet decided how to finance the appropriation. One possibility is an additional USDA loan, which would also be a four-year loan, albeit at a higher interest rate of approximately 2.7 percent (compared to 1.87 percent for the earlier loan).

Whatever the solution, it will have to be approved by a future town meeting.

Sharon’s resolution was much longer, and spelled out exactly how the the town is going to pay for the additional funds.

Sharon will use the $250,000 state grant and $248,117 from the town’s undesignated general fund balance.

At the Salisbury town meeting there were a couple of questions about practical concerns, such as the electric supply and the entrance at the new transfer station, and a question about Burlington Construction’s willingness to bring down the cost.

In Sharon, after remarks by Selectman Dale Jones and Bill Braislin of the Transfer Station Building Committee, there were no questions or comments other than a request for clarification.

Charlie Vail was the moderator at the Salisbury town meeting. Barbara Prindle moderated in Sharon.