WINSLOW — The Town Council voted unanimously to start a six-month recycling pilot program aimed at lowering tip fee costs at its monthly meeting Monday evening.

“We felt we needed to try this experiment to see how it was going to work,” said Councilor Ken Fletcher, who is on the municipal waste committee.

The town currently collects sorted recyclables at Winslow Public Library, capturing nearly one-quarter of the town’s waste.

The pilot program will switch to a single-sort stream that can take more materials and will offer three drop-off locations to residents.

In theory, the change could help capture another 10 to 15 percent of the town’s waste stream, Fletcher said in an interview Tuesday. About 40 percent of the town’s waste is believed to be recyclable.

“The one thing that’s kind of encouraging is Winslow people have done a tremendous job using the resource at the library,” Fletcher said, adding that the trailers at the library need to be emptied three times per week. “… I’m kind of thinking that if we make it a little bit easier … we might be surprised as to how much we get.”

Residents also will be able to recycle more than they have in the past, including all types of plastic, glass, cans and items such as food wrappers, Fletcher said.

For the pilot, a local hauler will supply the town with nine containers and empty them once per week for $307 per week. The cost to empty the current trailers is about $208 per week. The locations are yet to be confirmed, though they will probably be at the library, on Cushman Road and in the old Scott Paper parking lot.

The committee has to increase its weekly recyclables from 18 to 19 tons to offset the costs of the containers, Fletcher said.

What the town sends off in recycling, it doesn’t have to pay to haul and then transfer to either the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. or, in 2018, the landfill in Norridgewock.

The cost to send trash to PERC is $97 per ton after tipping fees and transportation. At the landfill, it will be lower, Fletcher said, but the town still would like to divert as much trash as possible away from the landfill.

“I think everybody is pretty much in agreement that the less material you put in a landfill that has usable value, that’s the right thing to do,” he said.

The committee has been working on the project for two to three years, Fletcher said.

During the November election, the committee handed out surveys and found that 82 percent of those who responded were in favor of single-sort recycling if it was curbside.

The group decided to increase the town’s number of drop-off locations as an interim step, Fletcher said, so that people can get accustomed to single-sort and what is allowed.

The council also voted, 7-0, to approve taking on a $2 million bond for road repairs and drainage improvements. The Public Works Department anticipates making improvements to eight roads, including Clinton Avenue, Wyman Bog Road and Abbott Road.

Councilor Ray Caron asked the town if it could find out the cost to evaluate roads so a professional potentially could guide the town on where improvements are most needed.

In other business, the council discussed what to do with the industrial building on Benton Avenue that houses Orion Ropeworks and Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

The town owns the building, previously appraised at $2 million, and leases it to the two businesses. The councilors have expressed interest in the past in selling the building and getting out of the landlord business.

Fletcher said the town has been fortunate to have good renters, but it should look at its options.

Councilor Patricia West suggested the town get an appraisal on the building, which Town Manager Michael Heavener agreed to do. The council also talked about first offering the property to the longtime tenants when the appraisal is finished.

The council also discussed changing the hours for the Town Office and Public Works to better serve residents who can’t get out of work during the day. The Public Works Department may post Saturday hours in the fall and spring, as it did last fall, and the Town Office may look into doing one longer day, though Heavener said that residents can do nearly everything online.

Heavener also said he wants to look into buying a digital messaging board for the town when the walkway is redone.

Kyle Price, principal of the elementary school, said the Parent-Teacher Organization tried to get one for the school years ago and was told zoning ordinances wouldn’t allow it.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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