CHARLESTOWN — Town Council members in Charlestown said they’re opposed to a state move that would use $6 million in funds collected from cities and towns through waste-disposal fees to help balance the state’s budget.
The council voted 3-0 Monday to oppose the move in Gov. Gina Raimondo’s budget to “scoop” money from quasi-public agencies, in this case the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation, that had been designated for capital improvements and expanding the landfill.
The state would transfer $3 million for fiscal year 2018, which ends June 30, and the same amount for fiscal year 2019, beginning July 1.
The Resource Recovery Corporation owns and operates the Central Landfill in Johnston and collects “tipping fees” from cities and towns to dispose of their solid waste at the landfill.
Locally, council members complained that the move comes after the agency imposed a 47 percent increase in tipping fees on municipalities over two years, citing the need to fund capital improvements.
The rate went from $32 per ton charged to $39.50 per ton this fiscal year, and is set to rise to $47 per ton next year.
“The reason for the increases were for capital improvements,” council member Denise Rhodes said. “And now the governor wants to take the monies we have been paying, and it shouldn’t be done that way.”
Cities and towns are paying approximately $2.1 million more in 2018 than in 2017, and would pay an additional $4.1 million in fiscal year 2019.
In 2017, the town paid $20,992 at $32 per ton, according to the Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns. Based on the same tonnage, the town would pay $25,912 this fiscal year at $39.50 per ton and $30,832 in 2019 at $47 per ton.
“Basically, we’re paying to build up a surplus and then it gets taken and we have to pay to build it up again,” council member Bonnie Van Slyke said.
Charlestown’s resolution in opposition will be sent to local legislators, leaders in the General Assembly, the League of Cities and Towns and all municipalities.
Also Monday, the council, with President Virginia Lee and Vice President Julie Carroccia absent, voted to adopt the proposed $28.4 million 2018-19 budget and send it to a town referendum on June 4. Voting will take place between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. at Town Hall, in council chambers.
A public hearing was held on April 30, with no comments.
“The Budget Commission did a lot of hard work, meeting every week for months to put this together,” Town Administrator Mark Stankiewicz said.