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Casella pays, 2 years later

Southbridge gets $60K in back fees

May 23, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — About two years after the fact, the town recently collected about $60,000 Casella Waste Systems owed in daily cover fees.

According to the contract, Casella is supposed to pay Southbridge $5.53 per ton of "daily and intermediate cover" it uses after receiving a quarter of the contract's annual municipal solid waste limit. Currently, the limit is 180,960 tons per year (therefore, the fee kicks in at 45,240 tons), but it will rise to a maximum of 405,600 tons per year (making the quarter cutoff 101,400 tons) after the access road is complete.

"They have been over [that limit] for the first year and a half they were open," Town Manager Christopher Clark said. "We sent them a bill for about $160,000, but it was prorated because the contract wasn't yet in place — it didn't kick in until June [2008]. They finally paid $60,000."

To Board of Health member Ann Fenwick-Beinema, that's not enough, and is just another sign of problems within the Health Department. She alleges the paperwork trail starts with the state reports of total tonnage the department receives, which need to go to Town Accountant Mindy Ernst-Fournier so she can bill Casella appropriately.

To Health Director James Morin, the issue isn't intentional, just a sign that the department still needs to develop good systems to capture and use the data it needs. He compared it to a new business, noting companies have to develop billing and other systems to run properly.

"I don't think it's anything alarming, but it's time to get more formal [with Casella], especially when they'll be going up with weights [as the road opens]," he said. "We work hand in hand with the town manager, but we also have to push the billing information to the manager. We have to find a system to protect our asset [the landfill], and don't have one now."

For more on this story, please see Monday's Southbridge Evening News.

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