A Casella truck emptying waste at the Graham Road Landfill in Brunswick on the last day of the sites operation. C. Thacher Carter / The Times Record

Brunswick may pay more for Casella Waste Systems to collect its trash and recycling than anticipated, a revelation that has irked several town councilors.

Brunswick’s Graham Road landfill officially closed on April 1. Soon after, the council voted 7-2 to finish negotiations with ecomaine for disposal of the town’s trash and recycling and Casella for collection and transportation of the waste. In March, estimates put the cost of collection and transport through Casella at around $803,391 a year.

But according to Brunswick’s Town Manager John Eldridge, the current contract proposal provided by Casella is “significantly higher” than original estimates.

Neither Brunswick Public Works Director Jay Astle nor Casella spokesman Joseph Fusco would provide details as to how much the current proposal exceeds the previous one.

“I’m not going to give any numbers,” Astle said. “We’re trying to get it closer to a reasonable number and I don’t even want to define what reasonable is because there is some flexibility in that as well.”

Fusco said also that he would not provide numbers during negotiations. “We have to respect the process of talking and having conversations and working this out with our partners,” Fusco said.

“I’m disappointed in Casella,” Town Councilor Dan Ankeles said. “I think they communicated one thing to this council and then they didn’t have their ducks in a row internally. They came back with a new figure that was much higher after the council had already voted to start these negotiations.”

According to Fusco, the original estimates increased after further calculations and research involving what resources it would take to bring Brunswick’s trash and recycling to ecomaine. Specifically, Fusco said, is the need for an addition truck and more personnel, resources that would not be necessary for managing waste through the current protocol that involves a waste-transfer station.

“The first estimate was really just a back-of-the-envelope guess in talking to them as our partners,” Fusco said. “From our perspective, this really is part of a process, this is how you do these things, you have a continuing discussion. We’re very hopeful that we will arrive at a solution that works for Brunswick, but this is part of the process.”

Councilors Kathy Wilson and Steve Walker echoed Ankeles’ statement. Councilor Christopher Watkinson also expressed disappointment.

“At best I think the recent developments has been disappointing,” said Watkinson. “At worst I have a hard time seeing how the initial numbers and conversation had with the town were done in good faith,” Watkinson added, noting that the number is not “slightly,” but “grossly” higher.

“I think staff was put in a horrible position in terms of negotiation here, they’re basically hung out to dry by Casella,” Walker said. “Hopefully this will resolve in a way that we can live with it and move forward, but it was disappointing.”

Astle said that, while he was disappointed by the higher numbers, he does not share the sentiment expressed by the councilors, stating that Casella has been great to work with throughout the process to try and arrive at a deal.

“At every turn they’ve been very willing to go back to the drawing board and see what they can come up with,” Astle said, noting that the town and Casella are working to find cheaper transportation methods.

The original projected start for the contract was July 1, however, Astle said that it is now unlikely. Regardless, trash will continue to be collected curbside through Casella, however brought to a different facility than ecomaine.

In March, the town estimated the cost of disposal to be around $493,475 a year through ecomaine. Astle said that, at the moment, ecomaine’s estimates have not changed, however, pushing back the start date could potentially impact the cost.

In March, Recycling and Sustainability Committee Chairperson Jamie Ecker cited that ecomaine could effectively lower the town’s municipal net greenhouse gas emissions by around 80%.

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