NISKAYUNA — Fees at the Niskayuna transfer station more than doubled after the Town Board approved a rate hike at its meeting last week.
An annual permit for residents to bring their household trash and recyclables to the station at 2555 River Road is now $130, up from the 2022 rate of $60, with the three-day permit tripling from $30 to $90 under the newly approved rates.
A one-day permit will now cost $45, up from $20 in last year’s fee schedule.
Town Supervisor Jamie Puccioni said the economic realities of operating the station necessitated the rate hikes.
According to Town Comptroller Beth Greenwood, the anticipated cost to run the transfer station in 2023 was budgeted at $58,545.
“Based on historical pass sales, we anticipated selling 240 [annual] passes, 45 one-day passes, 40 three-day passes and roughly 1,086 $20 punch cards, so we set the prices to support the budget based on that assumption,” Puccioni said.
In order for the station to keep costs at the 2022 price range, the town would have had to sell 520 annual passes, 102 one-day passes and 120 three-day passes to the station.
During the board’s meeting last Tuesday, the resolution to raise the rates passed 4-0, with Town Board Member John Della Ratta absent.
Prior to the board vote, Puccioni noted that the board began discussions about the transfer station’s finances last March, with the supervisor asking Greenwood to conduct a cost-benefit analysis on the service.
“In this five-year analysis, we saw that over time the transfer station was barely breaking even and then it was losing money,” she said. “So during the budgeting process, we talked extensively about what would be needed.”
Puccioni said the town considered closing the transfer station, but instead opted to raise the fees to a level where the station wasn’t losing money.
“This year for the purpose of maintaining a balanced budget, these fees have to increase,” Puccioni said during the meeting.
The supervisor added the decision to raise the fees was not made lightly.
“A lot of thought, discussion and number-crunching and looking at data went into this decision,” she said.
Prior to the board vote, Niskayuna resident Portia Zwicker expressed her opposition to the rate increases.
“I’ve lived at my house for five years and I only learned of the option to bring my trash to the transfer station about two years ago,” she told the board. “Until then I thought that contracting with a private hauler was my only option.”
Zwicker told the board that she was weighing ending her contract with County Waste to begin using the transfer station and was surprised when she contacted the town and learned about the rate hikes.
“I understand that the transfer station has to be funded and it’s probably underutilized, however, I’m willing to bet that a lot, maybe most, Niskayuna residents are unaware of this less expensive option,” she said.
Zwicker suggested that the board postpone the rate hike and launch a public awareness campaign to publicize the transfer station.
During the board’s vote later in the meeting to approve the rate increases, Puccioni said the town would make an effort to inform the public about the transfer station’s offerings.
Niskayuna Town Board member Bill McPartlon noted during the meeting that revenue from recyclables has gone down..
“The money that we used to be able to get for certain things that we collect there like paper, plastics, glass and metal, we’re not getting the same money for those,” he said. “So that revenue has gone down a lot. We talked about closing [the station], but we don’t want to do that. I think it is a benefit to our residents and we want to do everything we can to keep it open and running.”
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