UCRRA Board Unanimously Pass Resolution to Triple Kingston’s Single-Stream Recycling Costs through December.

Click on image to view video.

By Rebecca Martin

On Wednesday, the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency (UCRRA) unanimously passed through Resolution No. 2445 that will end single-stream recycling for the agency on December 31st, 2018 and resolution No. 2446 to increase tipping fees for the remainder of the year beginning July 1, 2018.

What does that mean for Kingston?

Single stream recycling is Kingston’s current system, and we made a large investment in order to do so between 2011 and 2013 with UCRRA’s blessing.  Although Kingston is the only municipality who does so through UCRRA, other communities in Ulster County engage in single stream recycling through private haulers without any trouble.

The City of Kingston, that serves approximately 24,000 people, must now scramble to figure out how to manage its single-stream recycling  before the end of the year and in the meantime, the costs to use UCRRA as we have will TRIPLE from $20 per ton to $76 per ton in July ($61 + $15 user fee). The price may fluctuate from month to month, and be even higher until single-stream is discontinued at UCRRA and we go off on our own.

The bitter pill in all of this for the public is that during the UCRRA Board’s informational meeting earlier in the spring, the agency was aware of the potential changes in the market last October. Prior to the City of Kingston adopting its municipal budget and with more time to engage in discussions with the public and private enterprises.

VIEW  Video
Brought to you by KingstonCitizens.org thanks to the Kingston News

KingstonCitizens.org will host a public educational forum on the UCRRA board in September of 2018.

 

 

VIDEO: City of Kingston Mayor Steve Noble UCRRA Public Hearing on Single Stream Recycling

Photo Credit: Phyllis McCabe for Hudson Valley One.  Click on image to view Mayor Steve Noble’s Testimony at the UCRRA Public Hearing on Single Stream Recycling and rate increases on June 14th. 

 

Mayor Steve Noble gave excellent testimony at Thursday evening’s Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency’s (UCRRA) public hearing on Single Stream Recycling and rate increases.  You may click on the image to view his testimony, or following along here:  VIEW 

The public can submit comments for the next 10 days (through June 24th) to UCRRA@ucrra.org

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“I could come before you this evening to talk about how the city of Kingston began its single stream operation. I could talk to you about how the Research Recovery Agency blessed the city of Kingston’s transition to single stream recycling. I could talk to you this evening about how much money the city has spent with both local funds and state grant dollars purchasing recycling bins for the city of Kingston residents. 

I could also talk to you at length about the amount of money spent on mechanizing our equipment to have the single stream recycling trucks that we purchased with state dollars. I could also speak to you this evening about how our recycling rates have almost doubled in the city of Kingston since we implemented this new recycling program. But in five minutes, I can’t do that.  I also don’t believe I can do that in the month in a half that we’ve had since UCRRA announced its plans to discontinue single stream recycling. 

This is viewed as something that, as you all have indicated, has been happening because of China. But I would say that the issue of recycling has been happening around our country and around New York for decades, trying to get people to recycle. And it has not been easy. And it’s been something that we’ve all struggled with. 

Whether we’re single stream or dual stream, people still don’t know how to recycle correctly. People still put plastic bags in dual stream recycling just like they do in single stream recycling. They still don’t know where to put shredded paper. And whether it can be recycled or it can’t be recycled. And I think the same issue is here. This is an important decision. What do we charge? How do we manage it? Is it dual stream? Is it single stream? 

The agency is shifting course and deciding, again, that dual stream is the only way that Ulster County should operate. Then that should be a public discussion, and it should involve the county legislature. It should involve the recycling oversight committee. It should involve a whole lot more meetings like this, and it should involve the stake holders that will be directly implemented and impacted by these decisions. That should include the large haulers like Waste Management and County Waste. And it should involve the residents of the city of Kingston that don’t speak English. 

It should involve all of our residents. And the agency needs to step up and engage with our communities and really decide how can we build a better, more sustainable and also more resilient recycling industry here in Ulster County. And there is no way that that can happen before December 31st of 2018 before the proposed switch that you’re asking us to do. 

We need to be able to spend that time working together to decide once and for all how we do this. As many of you know, it’s taken the city of Kingston four years to completely implement single stream recycling in just the residential neighborhoods. On Tuesdays, we still have dual stream recycling, for the most part, on our business commercial districts in the city. And so we still haven’t gone fully single stream. 

I do think that it’s important that this decision not being made in haste. I think that the board has created a crisis, and made this seem like a crisis, making it seem that our agency is stockpiling single stream recycling. Making it seem that we have no place to put it. Making it seem that there is an emergency happening here in Ulster County, and it’s just not true. 

And yes, we all recognize that the market is changing, and that we have a huge issue that we all have to tackle together. But again, I don’t believe it needs to be done in six months. I don’t believe it needs to be done like this.  I encourage all of you to consider that when you’re deciding on how the board is voting on these next two resolutions. And so with that said, I just want to say thank you again for letting me speak this evening.”

VIDEO: UCRRA Host Informational Meeting on Single-Stream Recycling Rate Hikes and Discontinuation of Program.

CITIZEN REQUEST

Plan to attend the upcoming public hearing on June 14th at the Ulster County Legisaltive Chambers at 5pm to speak to UCRRA’s proposed plan to discontinue single-stream recycling (in 2019) and to raise rates in the meantime (effective July 1st, 2018) as well as to click on the following EMAIL hyperlink to send the following request to members of the Ulster County Legislature, UCRRA Executive Director and City of Kingston Mayor.

    1. Request that UCRRA research regional collection sites single-stream recycling and provide a report to the public on its findings“It would be helpful to put some real numbers together…what Mayor Noble asked you was, you stated what we’re making but it would be valuable to know the nearest single stream Material Recovery Facility (MRF) that are investing in the equipment and labor, to do a cost comparative” – Ulster County Legislator Manna Jo Greene
    2. Request that the Ulster County Legislature reconvene the Recycling Oversight Committee in 2018.“I want to make a recommendation that we consider reconvening an existing body which is called the Recycling Oversight Committee that the Legislature created to see which new materials we could add as mandatory recyclables. We’ve met a few times over the past decade…we’re now at a point where the markets are difficult, there is an international component. Because the Recycling Committee was so inclusive with citizens, environmental groups and the City of Kingston,  we should seriously consider doing a consensus building process for the long run.  I want to find a mechanism to work together.”
       – Ulster County Legislator Manna Jo Greene
    3. Request that the Ulster County Legislature and UCRRA finish what is currently a “draft” Solid Waste Management Plan from 2011 to take a countywide, holistic approach.  (The last ‘final’ solid waste management plan was completed in 1991.)“The point of the agency is to manage the county’s waste stream. With the Ulster County recycling law it tells the agency that it’s your responsible to manage recycling in the county….a prerogative of the agency, and the agency has invested alot of resources over the years. Recycling has changed, but the agency has not (to meet those changes). This is a countywide issue. How many county residents out of 180,000 people do single stream recycling?  My guess is a large majority of the county are served by single-stream. Transfer stations are a smaller number than they were 30 years ago. The question is, how do we look at solid waste going forward? Do we have a county plan?”  
      – City of Kingston Mayor Steve Noble
    4. The Agency postpone its vote on the proposed fee increases and not consider a fee increase to go into effect until January 1, 2019, to allow participating municipalities time to budget appropriately or consider alternative options.“It took (the City of Kingston) 4 years to implement single-stream recycling in the city. We just finished this year, and there are still business districts that don’t have their totes. To get them back to this new way, with three bins that doesn’t include composting which would make it four bins. How do we do that by January, 2019?”
      – City of Kingston Mayor Steve Noble
    5. Request that the Ulster County Legislature Energy and Environment Committee take up the issue of flow control over recycling by asking for the authority from the state.“It’s a state law in your enabling legislation. If we can get the state to amend it, the county should have a plan for recycling so that we can be in charge of our own destiny.”
      – City of Kingston Mayor Steve Noble.

 

By Rebecca Martin

On Thursday, May 23rd, the Ulster County Recovery Resource Agency (UCRRA) held an informational meeting on the current climate of single-stream recycling,  it’s plan to raise rates as of July 1, 2019, and to discontinusingle-stream recycling as of January 1st, 2019.

What is UCRRA?

According to their website, “In 1986, the Ulster County Legislature obtained authorization from the State Legislature for the creation of the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency (the “Agency”), a public benefit corporation which was formed for the purpose of developing, financing, and implementing a comprehensive Countywide solid waste management program. In the mid-1980’s, after new initiatives to close non-complying exiting landfills were undertaken by the NYSDEC and strict requirements for the siting, construction, and operation of new disposal facilities were enacted, many communities found it beyond their financial and managerial capability to continue to dispose of waste in traditional ways. Consequently, many of the local municipalities in Ulster County requested that the Ulster County government assume the responsibility for solid waste management, and the Agency was created by the New York State Legislature pursuant to Chapter 936 of the Public Authorities Law approved December of 1986. The Agency’s organizational structure consists of a five-member Board of Directors; an Executive Director; Agency Counsel; and thirty administrative and operations personnel.”

UCRRA Proposes to Raise Rates and Discontinue Single Stream Recycling.

According to a chart presented during the meeting, UCRRA became aware of a changing Chinese market for single stream recycled materials in October of 2017.  As I understand it, although potential rate hikes had been discussed at around this time between UCRRA Executive Director Timothy Rose and City of Kingston Mayor Steve Noble, the decision for the county authority to discontinue single-stream recycling was learned from in a newspaper article released only one month ago.

 

VIDEO #1: Click on Image to View

1:01 – 16:19:   David Gordan, UCRRA Vice Chair
Presentation

Currently, the City of Kingston pays $20 per ton for comingled recycling materials. UCRRA claims that new categories have been formed, where rates will be $56 per ton for a ‘clean load’ (minimum contamination) or $107 per ton for a ‘dirty load’ (maximum contamination).

16:20 – 20:15:   City of Kingston Mayor Steve Noble
“We don’t know what companies are selling materials for after the single-stream plant processes it?” 

“We are presuming that the market is functioning honestly.” – David Gordan

“The Chinese market has decided to not accept our contaminated materials any longer.”   – Tim Rose, Executive Director, UCRRA

“When we talk numbers, I was wondering if your $400 a ton included the cost to the agency to get that amount…I don’t think that’s included. ” – CoK Mayor Steve Noble

22:51 – 25:51: UC Legislator David Donaldson, City of Kingston
“The plastic doesn’t get contaminated in single-stream…you still will receive money for plastic and cans.”

“Material Recovery Facility’s (MRF) are extremely expensive to operate. You are looking at labor costs, electrical costs.”    Description of an MRF is here: 24:10 – 25:05. 

“Plastic bags are a big issue.” (25:08 – 25:30)

25:52 – 28:47:  UC Legislator Manna Jo Green
“It would be helpful to put some real numbers together…what Mayor Noble asked you was, you stated what we’re making but it would be valuable to know the nearest single stream MRF that are investing in the equipment and labor, to do a cost comparative…I want to make a recommendation that we consider reconvening an existing body which is called the Recycling Oversight Committee that the Legislature created to see which new materials we could add as mandatory recyclables. We’ve met a few times over the past decade…we’re now at a point where the markets are difficult, there is an international component. Because the Recycling Committee was so inclusive with citizens, environmental groups and the City of Kingston,  we should seriously consider doing a consensus building process for the long run.  I want to find a mechanism to work together.”

38:12 – 38:44:  Charlie Landi, UCRRA Treasurer
“When the RRA first came to being, its losses were subsidized by the county through a net service fee. If the county wants to go back to that, we can work with that.”

46:25 – 48:46: Citizen
“Over the past 6 months when you’ve seen the direction we were going, dramatic change in where the ss is going, has that influenced private haulers?  Can you stop taking it from private haulers?”

“We can’t take any more single stream materials then we are taking. I am maxed out.” – Tim Rose, ED UCRRA

“Can you stop taking it from the haulers? – Citizen

“That’s what we’re discussing tonight. We are an authority, we can’t discriminate. We are talking about not taking it at all.” – Tim Rose

49:07 – 49:39: Introducing the UCRRA Board

29:48 – 54:39: UC Legislator Manna Jo Greene
“What are the options for the City of Kingston and haulers who are collecting single stream now?”

“(The SS recycling facilities) are limiting us to 2-3 trucks a day, 4 days a week. On Wednesday, it is only 2 trucks a day. We had to beg with them today, because we had 3 truck loads. I had no place to put it.” – Tim Rose, ED UCRRA

“Options for the CoK could be a couple of things. We could collect one type material one day then another on another day. There is 0 tipping fees for dual recycled materials.  Or you they can load it themselves and deliver it to a single stream facility.” – Tim Rose, ED UCRRA

 

VIDEO #2: Click on Image to View

00:00 – 2:25:  City of Kingston Mayor Steve Noble
“The point of the agency is to manage the county’s waste stream. With the Ulster County recycling law it tells the agency that it’s your responsible to manage recycling in the county….a prerogative of the agency, and the agency has invested alot of resources over the years. Recycling has changed, but the agency has not (to meet those changes). This is a countywide issue. How many county residents out of 180,000 people do single stream recycling?  My guess is a large majority of the county are served by single stream. Transfer stations are a smaller number than they were 30 years ago. The question is, how do we look at solid waste going forward? Do we have a county plan?”

2:26 – 3:12:  On the Flow Control Law, CoK Mayor Steve Noble
“I do want to make a point of clarification on net service fees. I indicted that the county took on a $2 million dollar burden before flow control took it back. That $2 million was placed on the backs of the residents of the city and towns that pay the tipping fees.  We went from $70 to $103 per ton.  The amount really just moved from the county as a whole to the city residents when flow control occurred. “

3:13 – 7:33:  Charles Landi, UCRRA Board Member
“There is another shortcoming of our flow control law, three years ago when it passed here – recycling was left out of it. We have no control over recycling. If we’re ever going to get the MRF running, we would need that flow. We need an amendment to our flow control law to include recycling.”

“It’s a state law in your enabling legislation. If we can get the state to amend it, the county should have a plan for recycling so that we can be in charge of our own destiny.” – CoK Mayor Steve Noble.

“Another option you have, talking to your engineering department, you have a transfer station that has a footprint of 8 acres which means that you have room to store single stream recycling.” – Charles Landi

“The point I believe of UCRRA is to have a coordinated countywide approach. The reason the agency came into existance was so that individual towns in the coutny wouldn’t be in charge of managing their own solid waste or recycling…with a proposal to stop accepting single stream and for the City to deal with it themselves and work with the same vendors that the coutny is working with, is again starting to shift their responsibility of countywide solid waste management to individual towns and communities. That’s a large policy shift, and the residents of the county should have a more robust dialogue…..my transfer station is only open 1 1/2 days a week and we only have one way master. We are only talking about 2,000 tons of single stream recycling per year. That’s 30 tons a week. We have 8,000 tons of trash. The cost of managing 2,000 tons a year of single-stream, there is an efficiency of scale…if we stopped bringing single stream to you all, I don’t think you’d be laying off employees.  It fits into the work load of the agency. it would just be passing that cost on to the city. Some of tipping fee ($103 per ton) goes to the agency operation.  We help pay for overhead, the MRF, any other activities.  We are already contributing as well as paying the $20 a ton.” – City of Kingston Mayor Steve Noble.

11:07 – 15:40: Town of Ulster Supervisor James Quigley
“It was suggested at the end of June you were going to cease (taking SS recycling) There were some timelines thrown out, price changes, then the goal of stopping accepting single stream recycling. The ToU has to make a decision, so can you lay out a time line for what you may be visioning as to when you are going to make a decision about what you are going to do?”

“In an April resolution, we discussed hiking prices to $40 per ton, and to eliminate single stream as of January 1st….what we are now looking at now our regular meeting on May 30 is to settle on two resolutions: a price change and one considering ending single-stream recycling on January 1, 2019.  If we do a price change, it will take effect on July 1, 2018 – but that hasn’t been decided yet. It will be decided after we put it up for public consideration in a public hearing on June 14th.  The Board will vote on both resolutions on June 27th at 5pm.” – David Gordan

“The City of Kingston, Town of Ulster and Town of Saugerties equals approximately 35 – 40% of recycling. The balance is from private haulers, not including Waste Management and County Waste. Welsh is about 45%. The City of Kingston about 35%. The rest is the Town of Ulster and Saugerties.”

“The Town of Ulster is proposing to move from single-stream?” – David Gordan

“I’m not proposing anything, I’m considering. Big difference.” – Town of Ulster Supervisor James Quigley

16:25 – 21:18:  Town of Ulster Supervisor James Quigley
“What’s the probability of a tipping fee increase for next year?”

“Our five-year contract with Senaca falls is up in a year…landfills are closing around the state, so I’m nervous about what will happen next year that will take effect as of January 1, 2020.  We’ve done our due diligence. I’ve known this was coming down the pike, and we’ve been saving for this time.  Agency is planning to operate with a deficit to move things up incrementally.  The good news is that we’ll keep the tipping fee the same for another year….though the  landfill may be at capacity at 2025.

21:26 -25:30: City of Kingston Mayor Steve Noble
“Dual stream materials are sorted, in the end you end up with some materials you shouldn’t have to begin with. With the amount of single stream brought to you, is your line not able to process cans, bottles and glass and in the end, have a heaping pile of paper? If you are already sorting out trash in the line, what’s the difference in sorting paper our of the line, too?”

“With dual stream there is little garbage, I usually need only one guy.” – Tim Rose, ED UCRRA

25:31 – 34:22:  Emilie Hauser
“What has the DEC done or what do you have to do to.keep with your permit, how much recycling can you store?”

“There is a certain amount that we can take, 80 tons a day, 400 tons stored. We’ll store bales of material when the market is low, and watch the market to decide the best time to sell. The market can be low enough when we hold onto materials. If we don’t accept single stream, it will be a benefit for us, as we’ll have more space. We can store when times are bad, and sell when sales are high. This can help to keep the tipping fees low.” – Tim Rose, ED UCRRA.

34:23 – 37:58:  City of Kingston Mayor Steve Noble
“What is the financial impact on the taxpayers of Ulster county?”

“We can’t pass laws, there’s no flow control on recycling.  The vast majority doesn’t come to us. The impact on taxpayers, hardly any difference at all.” – Tim Rose, ED UCRRA

“Just us.”  – City of Kingston Mayor Steve Noble

“When we do something fiscally responsible for us, it’s fiscally responsible for the county as a whole. If a municipality (like the city of Kingston) has chosen to invest in this way (single-stream), they may have problems. The real question is do we take those problems off of your hands?” – David Gordan

37:59 – 41:35: UC Legislator Tracey Bartels
“I agree with the Mayor that we have to take up the issue of flow control over recycling and ask for the authority from the state, we know it’s a problem going forward. As these markets dry up, we have two big haulers that are taking their single-stream out of the county because we don’t have flow control. I want to raise the concern that the agency exercise its responsibility of enforcement that that material is actually being recycled. If materials are leaving the county and going into the system and it becomes cheaper to go into their waste stream somewhere else, that would be against our county law…right now we have thousands of tons leaving the county saying ‘yes, we’re recycling’ but not a confirmation from the agency.  The city of Kingston is at a disadvantage because there is nowhere to hide…we want to make sure these private companies are actually recycling these materials.”

41:36 – 46:01: COK Resident
“How difficult would it be for the CoK to go back to dual stream recycling and also, did the state encourage SS recycling, or was it because it was easier to obtain it?”

“Currently over the past 5 years, we have purchased 96 gallon totes for everyone in the city to place single-stream recycling in that tote. At that time our recycling went up 30%. Prior to that, the agency stopped providing recycling containers. There wasn’t a coordinated recycling effort in the city.  We spent 1/2 million +.  The bins are picked up every two weeks. Trash pick-up every week. Yard waste on the off week. 35 members (of the DPW) to do that work. With a dual-stream system, there will be another set of bins (three large bins in total) that would require another weekly pick-up. We don’t necessarily feel that is something we can afford to do, nor do we have the manpower. Why did we get into this? For one, over the last 20 years, single-stream recycling has been in the market. We were the last community to go towards single stream recycling. When the agency accepted it, we said why can’t we do it too, and the agency said ”you can” and we launched our program. ” – City of Kingston Mayor Steve Noble

46:02 -48:09: CoK Resident
“We either have to go to dual stream, or find a market for SS. Seems like the Agency has decided that they are not going to accept it. Am I right about that?”

“We are listening to everyone. The problem is the Chinese market has decided not to accept it.” – Dave Gordan

48:16 – 58:00: CoK Resident
“I wanted to understand whether the Chinese market has absolution stopped taking it, or is it that they are being more selective?  What do they do with the materials? Are they just putting it in their landfills? If that’s the case, that’s really expensive garbage.”

“…the Chinese market now has 24 categories of things that they will not accept, and among them is single-stream…as of January. 1 (2018)” – David Gordan

58:01- 59:50: UC Legislator Manna Jo Greene
“Our Economic Development people have got to start incentivizing here in NY and the US. For us to be dependent on China is foolhardy…I would like for us to find a grant to purchase the extra bins. We have to be solution oriented.”

VIDEO #3: Click on Image to View

00:00 – 1:45:  City of Kingston Mayor Noble
“If the city of Kingston was to go that route, it took us 4 years to implement ss recycling in the city. we just finished this year, and there are still business districts that still don’t have them. To get them back to this new way, with three bins that doesn’t include composting, and makes four bins. How do we do that by January, 2019?” 

 

WHAT TO EXPECT: Single-Stream Informational Meeting hosted by UCRRA

On Wednesday, May 23rd at 5:00pm, the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency will host an informational meeting on Single-Stream recycling at the Ulster County Legislative Chambers, 6th Floor, 244 Fair Street, Kingston, NY.  The meeting will be filmed thanks to The Kingston News (DONATE)

There will be no decisions made tomorrow evening. We encourage the public to take advantage of this opportunity and ask all of the questions that they might have. We’ll be creating a post for the upcoming public hearing on this matter in June with clear recommendations.

VIEW UCRRA’s event page.

According to Executive Director Timothy Rose, the meeting tomorrow will be “an informal, two-way discussion.  A brief PowerPoint will be presented.”

There is no information on who will sit on the panel, or what the overall agenda will be to share here.

KingstonCitizens.org requested that the Mayor of Kingston be included on the panel and we appreciate the public making that request. According to Rose, he says that ” I haven’t heard from Mayor Noble so I don’t know if he wants to be part of the discussion or if he will attend.”

The Mayor of Kingston plans to be in attendance.

In this week’s City of Kingston newsletter, Mayor Noble says, “As many of you are aware, the Ulster County Resource and Recovery Agency (UCRRA) has made reference to proposals that, if approved, will significantly impact our community. In addition to the Agency’s proposal to double recycling fees mid-year, the Agency is considering discontinuing its acceptance of Single Stream Recycling…I will be attending both of these meetings and strongly encourage all of you to consider attending as well.

As part of this process, I recently attended a meeting of the Ulster County Legislature’s Energy and Environment Committee to voice my concerns about these proposals. You can listen to the entire meeting…

HERE 

…and can listen specifically to my comments at approximately the 1 hour and 22 minute mark. As you will hear, the issue is much larger than whether we have single stream or dual stream recycling- we are on the brink of an international environmental crisis. While Single Stream Recycling may be the focus today, the fact is that no matter how recycling is collected, there are fewer places for the recycled materials to go at the moment. Whereas recycled materials used to be a valuable commodity, the market has shifted, at least temporarily. Two years ago when UCRRA was collecting increased revenue from recycled materials, discontinuing Single Stream Recycling was not up for discussion.  I firmly believe that recycling policy should not be dictated solely by market conditions. It is time for  the Ulster County Legislature to institute flow control for recyclables, call for the review, update and approval of the long-awaited Solid Waste Management Plan for Ulster County, and reestablish the Recycling Oversight Committee of the Legislature.

With all that said, we have work to do locally. Our recycling compliance over the past few months has declined, leading to more recyclables ending up in the trash stream (with taxpayers ultimately paying a higher rate because of it!) and warnings and fines being issued to property owners. This needs to change. Over the next few weeks, my staff will be working to ensure that every person in the City of Kingston knows how to effectively recycle. We will do this through education and, as necessary, enforcement. Prior to any property owner being issued a fine, staff issue a written warning with a list of items that are allowed and not allowed in the blue totes. We will also be mailing a bilingual flyer to every property in Kingston to remind us all what can and cannot go into the blue totes. I need your help. Have no doubt, I will continue to fight to maintain our Single Stream Recycling service. However, I need residents to use our recycling system appropriately, review the information we provide, and ask questions if anything is unclear.”

READ: “Request that UCRRA Postpone Their Decision to Discontinue Single Stream Recycling”

VIDEO: Water & Waste Water Infrastructure 101 Educational Panel 3/24/15

By Rebecca Martin

“Infrastructure must be maintained. People come to rely on that service.  The general population doesn’t stop to think “If I didn’t have water, how would my life be affected? How valuable is that infrastructure to my quality of life that I have?  How much am I paying for it vs. how important is it to my life?”
– Fred Testa, EFC

“Many municipalities  say “I haven’t raised water rates. Re-elect me!”  Not good. You need to continually keep pace with the cost of running your system. One of the ways you do that is by increasing your rates to recognize that things cost more as you move forward. You also recognize that things may not break next year, but may in five years – and you keep projecting future costs.”
– Candace Balmer, RCAP

Last evening, KingstonCitizens.org hosted a “Water & Waste Water Infrastructure 101” educational panel with guests Water Resource Specialist Candace Balmer of RCAP Solutions and Environmental Project Manager Fred Testa from NYS Environmental Facilities Corporation.

Close to 50 people were in attendance that included elected and appointed officials, representatives from many of our environmental organizations and citizens alike.

Thanks to our sponsors for this event that include the Woodstock Land Conservancy, Riverkeeper and Catskill Mountainkeeper and to Kingston News for providing a live stream of the event and the following video.

MATERIALS:

1.  NYS Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (NYS EFC)
City of Kingston applications/awards to date

2. Powerpoint: NYS Environmental Facilities Corporation

3. Powerpoint: Candace Balmer, RCAP (Coming soon)

 

 

PART One:

oo:oo – 2:42:  KingstonCitizens.org Welcomes the Audience and Guests.

2:43 – 5:24:  MODERATOR Jennifer Schwartz Berky, Introduction

5:26 – 25:00:  PRESENTATION: Candace Balmer, RCAP Solutions

25:14 – 27:48:  QUESTION: Dan Shapley, Riverkeeper
“Is there a reuse solution for the wastewater sludge?”

27:50 – 59:30:  PRESENTATION: Fred Testa, NYS Environmental Facilities Corporation     FOLLOW ALONG with PowerPoint

 

PART Two:

0:00 – 1:56:   QUESTION, Dan Shapley 
”If there is a water quality problem the community is aware of, but isn’t documented on the list it’s not helping getting funding for that project?”

“If the project is going to improve water quality (class b vs. class c) does that effect the score of the project?”

3:00 – 4:04:    MODERATOR

MHI (Median Household Income) is $44,000 in Kingston, making us likely to be eligible for funding.  

“How is the water supply changing based on growth and change in the landscape?  The way we manage, monitor, maintain?”

4:06 – 5:58:  Fred Testa, EFC

“State Department of Health has the role of regulating the quality of water.”

6:00 – 6:24:  MODERATOR

“Would you say that there is an increasing burden on small communities in the way of managing infrastructure?”

6:26:    Candace Balmer, RCAP 

“Demographic changes and the financial impact from shrinking communities.”

7:02 – 7:16:  MODERATOR

“H0w is the role of the government changed to met that gap? Is it doing so?

7:17:  Candace Balmer, RCAP

“Water is free, but the pipes that are bringing it to you are not. It costs more than what they want to deal with.”

8:28 – 12:20:   MODERATOR

“In the Kingston system, rates might have to go up to provide for infrastructure needs. In the present, we are struggling to meet that demand. Can we talk for a moment about different rate structures, and what you’re seeing as best practice? Kingston has a descending rate structure today.”

9:25:  Candace Balmer, RCAP

“We advocate a level rate structure and per gallon charge so that there isn’t any base usage. It’s called FULL COST PRICING.”

10:16MODERATOR

“How does that play out in the community?”

10:18:  Candace Balmer, RCAP

“You have fixed costs. If people decide to use less to save money, the department still has to meet those costs.”

11:24:  Fred Testa, EFC

“Some small communities have a simple, flat rate. In the old days, things were more simple and it’s not as simple today.  In waste water, sometimes the expense on the property owner is based in part on property values.”

12:21 – 13:38:  MODERATOR 

“You brought asset management which the City of Kingston is undergoing for its waste water infrastructure. Can you tell us more about it and how you might be involved?  By the way, it’s the most expensive piece of infrastructure for the COK to run. It was found in our climate action plan that the municipality is responsible for that, and the cost of repairs would be 3 x more than we thought given it’s in the flood plain. Instead of it being $2 million dollars it’s more like $6 million in longterm costs.”

13:40 – 18:56:  Candace Balmer, RCAP

“People don’t always understand where their dollars are going, (chemicals, transmission, admin, debt repayment, etc.). It’s about getting the most value for your equipment. It costs more to fix something once it’s broken than when it was planned for so to be replaced in a timely manner.  Assets are pipes, buildings, tanks, equipment, security, tools, office/lab. These are things that you have invested in and you recognize that they have a life span and when they break, you want to make sure that you have access to the things that you need to replace them efficiently and think of about financing for these replacements beforehand.  The first thing you do is an inventory. You want to identify what your assets are and prioritize your critical assets. Those that you’ll be really in trouble if you don’t have a back-up or money in the kitty for replacement.  Many communities don’t have maps. It’s very important to know what and where these assets are. What’s the expected use for life of an asset and how much does it cost? You’ve got to be saving money and setting it aside in dedicated accounts.”

18:29 – 18:56:  Candace Balmer, RCAP

Many municipalities  say “I haven’t raised water rates. Re-elect me!”  Not good. You need to continually keep pace with the cost of running your system. One of the ways you do that is by increasing your rates to recognize that things cost more as you move forward. You also recognize that things may not break next year, but may in five years – and you keep projecting future costs.”

19:11 – 19:52:  Candace Balmer, RCAP 

“Long term vs. short plan terming – you want to have the name of what you are replacing in that account so that extra money in water budgets are not transferred. You need dedicated reserve accounts.”

19:57 – 22:58:   MODERATOR 

“The EFC brought a list of what Kingston has borrowed from the revolving funds since 1994/1998.  How does EFC Work with a city like Kingston on Asset Management?

20:56 – 22:58:   Fred Testa, ECF

“We would mostly be urging them to do that. Asset Management plans are a growing phenomenon.  It wasn’t done in the past. There is a growing interest to do this and the DEC is starting to work on a plan making it required. What will the rates be? How will they need to be raised in order to avoid crisis? Asset Management will take communities a long way to know what will be happening. They are a live plan. They do no good to put them up on the shelf and not revisited and updated consistently.”

22:59 – 24:06   MODERATOR

“The State is trying to incorporate best practices for rating and in awarding funding.  Communities should invest where they already exist vs. sprawling. Invest in existing communities instead of newer projects.”

24:12 – 25:17:  QUESTION:  Rachel Marco-Havens (Woodstock)

“Can you speak to New Paltz regarding waste water? You spoke about Smart Growth. What does that mean environmentally?”

25:18 – 26:35  Fred Testa, EFC

We are looking at a project with new infrastructure or expand new service area. Has the municipality planned for growth in that area? Does it add properties that local growth hasn’t thought about. We are looking to see if the local gov have considered impacts on the communities. Was it planned for? Is a comp plan available to avoid uncontrolled sprawl that have adverse effects.

27:06 – 27:26  QUESTION: Rebecca Martin (Kingston)

“Can you speak a little bit to inter-municipal partnerships and how funding increase, or the benefits?”

27:28 – 29:56   Fred Testa, EFC

“We want to see that there is capacity at a treatment plant for both, that the communities have already talked. We want to see an inter-municipal agreement. A legal contract drawn up by the parties. Tying in smart growth, the idea is if there is a treatment plant nearby it may be best for everyone to make use of it.”

29:57 – 30:40:   MODERATOR

“There was a discussion in Kingston and Ulster in looking at that sort of collaboration in the past. I don’t know where those discussions are today. Also Comprehensive Plans can engage in other communities under municipal law to generate inter-municipal agreements.”

30:41 – 43:04: QUESTION: Ward 3 Alderman Brad Will (Kingston)

“I think this should be mandatory attendance for all muniapl leaders. Looking at the revolving fund loans for Kingston and noticing out of 14 there are 3 that originated from the Kingston water dept, all happening in 2012 under 1/2 million – 6.2 million.  In the dealings with the KWD are you in close contact or are there ongoing communications with KWD since 2012?

32:32:  Fred Testa, EFC

“I myself haven’t worked with Kingston, but the water district is referenced here – but the COK was the borrower here, not the Water Department.”

QUESTION: Ward 3 Alderman Brad Will

“We have a flooding task force that looked at conditions in the Rondout, historically it’s been very industrial. Are there funding mechanisms to assist with businesses and private property owners to help mitigate flooding problems?”

34:49:  Fred Testa, EFC

“Not through EFC.  There may be funding through the Consolidated Funding Application.”

35:43:  Candace Balmer, RCAP

“There may be funding through Community Development Block Grant for these things.”

35:59 – 38:13   MODERATOR and Fred Testa, EFC

“Kingston is going through it’s brownfield area opportunity, a GEIS of great magnitude that will allow business and property owners to move through the SEQR process more quickly. Through the DOS. The program, unfortunately, has sun setted but hopefully there will be more opportunities.” (more on the CFA Program, Green Innovations grant, all happen in June).  “Kingston has been on the ball and have qualified for a great number of grants. As have the county. We have a green infrastructure project for Sophie Finn School.”

38:19 – 40:22  Candace Balmer, RCAP

“I want to answer your question, Brad. The CDBG program, one is public infrastructure, planning, public facilities and economic development of small business and enterprise. I don’t know if the economic development section would apply, but it’s worth looking that up. For joint applications, there are strict requirements, but if you were a join applications you could apply for more funding.”

40:22  MODERATOR

“Kingston is an entitlement city, not entitlement county. Kingston’s CDBG goes through HUD (Housing and Urban Development).”

40:44:  QUESTION: Ward 3 Alderman Brad Will

“What is the percentage of applications that are approved through the EFC?”

40:54 – 41:00:  Fred Testa, EFC

Last year we financed every application.”

41:05  MODERATOR

“The window is closing for the hardship applications. If Kingston wanted to apply for the round that moves forward in 2016 and are not  listed this year how would that work?”

41:24: 43:04  Fred Testa, EFC

I think Kingston has projects listed in the drinking water plant, but not waste water. The City received funding last September for a study 30,000 to study the engineering planning grant WW treatment plant for improvements. They can then give us a listing form, get on the intended use plan and get a score to hopefully be high enough to apply for hardship financing.   Projects can apply for up to $25 million, $18 million at 0%  The city is not in a position to apply because they are not on the list. Step one. Get on the list.

43:08 – 48:20  QUESTION: Kathy Nolan, Catskill Mountainkeeper

“Troubled that we are talking about conventional waste water treatment plants. They don’t include pharmaceuticals, heavy metals, hormones. However newer technologies methods do. Those plants require less maintenance impacting costs. Who do we get to help us to be directed towards innovative approaches, especially considering NYS watershed?”

44:42:   Candace Balmer, RCAP

“Most don’t describe technology requirements, though must be technically approvable. In that way, it’s all fundable.”

45:18:  Fred Testa, EFC

“If there are new technologies being considered, the DEC which permits waste water treatment plants allows them to discharge treated wastewater as long as it meets cleanliness regulations. If they are presented with new technologies, they are going to want to see proven technical evidence.”

Candace Balmer, RCAP

“If it breaks, they want to see that you can get the pieces easily for repair. That don’t want you to put in something that is problematic in that way.”

Kathy Nolan CM

“What you’re describing is a system that doesn’t have a way to perhaps get started in communities that use better technology. With the Green Innovation funding stream, can we can get a plant funded to be used as a pilot to see how it functions and if it’s possible to create more of them.  We keep coming to the same point in the conversation. We need to do something that gets us into the better technology.”

Candace Balmer, RCAP

“Get with your regulator. Have them come with you and chat about concerns. Sometimes it’s an individual look at concerns.”

48:27 – 50: 04  QUESTION: Joanne Steel, Mid-Hudson Sierra Club  

“Town of Lloyd had a rebed system that was doing very well. Are you familiar with it?”

49:06   Fred Testa, EFC

“That was a wetland. It’s not a rebed for sludge.”

49:17  Candace Balmer, EFC

“Though it’s an example of their working with the DEC to get that project off the ground.”

50:11 – 53:53:  QUESTION: Mary McNamara (Saugerties)

“In our region there are often neighborhoods where Septic Systems have failed. To accommodate, water districts have been created. It’s to o expense to bring in a clean water program. The nearby surface waters are impacted. I see it more and more. What funding programs exist for individuals?”

51:25:  Candace Balmer, RCAP

“Looking at it from a community perspective, what EPA has promoted is decentralized water management concept with responsible management entity. Pay the bills. You can have a management district that manage onsite. Woodstock has a management area where they inspect and repair individual septic systems. There’s a variety of ways. For individuals, there are not a lot of programs. If you are poor or elderly you can get up to 7500 in a lifetime and septic systems are one of them that you can use it for.”

53:34: Fred Testa, EFC

“There is Housing Improvement in CDBG to improve septic systems for private drinking water wells.”

53:54 – 58:05:   MODERATOR

“Kingston represents a community that has experienced it all.  Now we are dealing with the burdens in dealing with infrastructure. How do we look down the road to address this challenge?”

56:11 – 57:16:  Fred Testa, EFC

“You need people to sit down and focus. Asset management approach forces people to look at specific elements of infrastructure and plan accordingly. Infrastructure must be maintained. People come to rely on that service.  The general population doesn’t stop to think “If I didn’t have water, how would my life be affected? How valuable is that infrastructure to my quality of life that I have?  How much am I paying for it vs. how important is it to my life?”

57:19 – 58:05:   Candace Balmer, RCAP

“It takes the community. When we do project planning we get everyone at the table. The regulators, the public, the board. Lets all sit down at what we’re looking at and what it costs.”

 

 

“Leave It On The Lawn, Kingston!” Initiative Marks Its Second Season in 2010

Kingston resident Kate Lawson leads by example.

“Leave It On The Lawn, Kingston!” initiative continues for a second year in the City of Kingston.

The City of Kingston’s Mayor James Sottile, DPW Superintendent Michael Schupp and The Kingston Land Trust hope to save Kingston citizen’s tax dollars for a second year by encouraging residents to mulch their leaf landscape waste.

KINGSTON – With the recent passing of a mandatory leaf bagging law in the city of Kingston, public officials in connection with the Kingston Land Trust are asking residents to “Leave It On The Lawn, Kingston!” for a second fall season. The federal program that was initiated locally hopes to save citizen’s tax dollars by asking them to ‘help Kingston help itself’.

“Mulching leaves takes a serious waste disposal problem and stops it at its source,” says Rebecca Martin, Executive Director of the Kingston Land Trust.  “Additionally, it takes 1/4 of a persons time rather than bagging them, avoids all municipal collection costs and provides valuable plant nutrients stored in leaves throughout the season to fertilize lawns and gardens naturally.”

A helpful brochure will be available at the city of Kingston’s Clerks office, Department of Public Works (DPW) and the Kingston Land Trust offices after October 10th about the program.  To learn more on the initiative online, visit the city of Kingston’s website or contact Rebecca Martin, Executive Director of the Kingston Land Trust at 845/877-LAND (5263) or rebecca@kingstonlandtrust.org

Why Residents Must Continue to Recycle

With the abrupt change made this week to the recycling schedule (that is now bi-weekly) we grew deeply concerned. Not because we think weekly pick-ups are ‘the way to go’. But because the change was made without any effort to inform or educate the public. As it is, through the hard work of Julie and Steve Noble and Jeanne Edwards, Kingston was sort of on the up and up on improving it’s recycling numbers. That might be history unless something is done and soon.

Sure, not every municipality offers recycling to their residents. That may even be where we are heading. The fact of the matter is, Kingston has offered it as a service and we have come to expect it. If more people now feel inconvenienced and decide to trash their plastics and all, we are not only heading in the wrong direction but we are also encouraging a whopper of an expense in the long run.

Why? At this time, Kingston pays UCRRA (Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency) $71 a ton to then ship our garbage up the river some 250 miles. That’s what makes it so expensive. Weigh that against the national average, which is around $42.08 per ton.

Landfills are close to capacity. Perhaps not this year or next, but in the very near future our garbage may be shipped even further away. Now does that make any sense?

So please, hold onto your recycling until your new scheduled pick-up day. Give your bottles and cans an extra wash out to prepare them to sit for a week longer. That only takes a few seconds of your time. If you simply can’t wait, delivering your recyclables, yard waste and brush to the transfer station is free.

Encourage your Alderman to help solve this problem through good discussion and solid examples by looking outside of Kingston to see what might be useful to us.

– Rebecca Martin

Here are a couple of helpful links.

City of Kingston: New Recycling/Yard Waste Pick-Up Schedule

KingstonCitizens.org: Why Pay As You Throw?

KingstonCitizens.org: Plastics By Numbers

Leave It On The Lawn, Kingston! Mulching and Composting Brochure

Making Citywide Composting Profitable

In today’s Daily Freeman, Andi Turco-Levin announces her desire to get behind a citywide composting program for the city of Kingston.

There are many components to discuss on the subject such as residents doing more of it themselves (by mulching leaves and composting bigger pieces of yard waste) and mandatory leaf bagging (a source of controversial discussion).

But whether it’s left curbside, bagged, bundled – whatever – the fact remains that the city is scrambling to find a place for yard waste, as we no longer have a place for it as we have in the past. So what to do?

Take a look at the City of Palo Alto, CA’s model. Interesting indeed. (Taken from the KingstonCitizens.org facebook page. Thanks Brad Will)

What can you do in the meantime?

Leave It On The Lawn, Kingston! Leaf Mulching
Leave It On The Lawn, Kingston! Composting Yard Waste

Environmental Focus on Kingston: O’ Christmas Tree

It’s here, again.  Looking at the calendar I can’t deny it anymore.  The holidays are coming even if I’m not ready.

Once this indulgent time of year has passed, what’s left behind will be evident in what’s put out curbside.  Plaintiffs’ exhibit one being the Christmas tree.

I suppose there’s an ongoing debate over artificial versus real trees.  I fall on the side of bah-humbug with regard to all things Christmas.  But if it became compulsory to display a Christmas tree and I had to make a choice between a real tree or its artificial counterpart, I would choose real any year.

Last year 28 million real Christmas trees were sold in the US.  They are grown in each of the fifty states and Canada.  With nearly 21,000 tree growing farms, the industry employs more than 100,000 full or part time annually.

Trees are a renewable, recyclable resource.  For every tree harvested, up to 3 seedlings are planted.  An acre of tree farm can provide enough oxygen for 18 people, while also providing a natural habitat to a variety of animals.

Once the glamour, glitz and glory of the holiday fade, all those trees begin their journey to their final resting place.  In Kingston we have two organized options available to local residents.

Bring your family and your tree to the annual Winterfest event held at Hasbrouck Park on January 16th between 10:00 – 2:00.  Your tree will be mulched for free!  You can take your mulch home with you or leave it to be distributed and used in Kingston’s extensive park system.

This growing and popular event is sponsored by the Kingston Parks and Recreation Department and the Friends of Forsyth Nature Center.  Other planned activities include snowshoeing lessons, snow animal building contest and children’s crafts.  The latter will be held inside of the heated and historic Hasbrouck Park Stone Building.  For directions to the event, click here.

If you are unable to make it to Winterfest, you may place your defrocked tree curbside for pickup through Jan 31st according to the city code.  Please note that if you get your tree out before January 16th the DPW will transport them to event site for chipping.  Any trees hauled away after that date will go to our local brush dump.

Still want more green tips for Christmas?  Check out these ideas.

Did You Know: 85% of artificial Christmas trees are manufactured in China and are made with non bio-degradable plastics?

–          Wilbur Girl

After The Election: Recycling Campaign Lawn Signs

After an election cycle, have you ever wondered what to do with those campaign lawn signs that you agreed to place on your property? Do you call the candidates and offer them back? Take them apart to recycle them? Re-use them for lawn sales?

I decided to take a look on-line to see if New York State had any lawn sign recycling program in place.

Nope. At least not so far as I could see. There are, however, several municipalities who have created such a thing (in Florida for example and of course California).

I wonder if those running for office would agree to do away with lawn signs. Not plausible? Then how about holding onto them to re-use in the case that they run again in the future. Most everyone has an attic, right?

Here is a good link to ‘Planet Green’ where you can read more about the recycling possibilities.

– Rebecca Martin