standing Westerly Town Hall

WESTERLY — Potential changes to operations at the municipal transfer station will be discussed Monday by the Town Council when it conducts a workshop meeting.

In May, the councilors asked for additional data to assist them with analyzing the recommendations of Mike Serra, assistant Department of Public Works superintendent. The council discusses the facility on a near annual basis, looking for ways to improve the facility's finances.

In May, Serra and Town Manager J. Mark Rooney proposed reducing the facility's days of operation from six to four or five, renegotiating a user agreement with the town of Hopkinton, implementation of a user permit fee, restricting access for recycling to just certain days of the week, and consideration of increasing the cost of town-issued trash bags.

The transfer station is designated as an enterprise fund, a designation given to government services that charge a fee for the service. Accounting for an enterprise fund is segregated from other municipal budget items as a means to show the true cost of the service. While opinions vary, some say enterprise funds should break even or post a profit or surplus.

During deliberations on the municipal budget in the spring, the Board of Finance recommended the council study the transfer station's financial performance, noting its increased reliance on funds from the town budget rather than fees charged for use of the facility to balance the facility's annual budget.

In other business, the council will discuss Rooney's recommendations for use of COVID-19 relief funds from the federal government. The town's allocation, according to a memorandum from Rooney, for the next two fiscal years is $6.6 million. There are additional grant funds earmarked for the Washington County area that town officials are pursuing, Rooney said in the memo.

Rooney is recommending using the majority of the $6.6 million toward the cost of an estimated $15 million upgrade that is needed at the municipal wastewater treatment plant on Margin Street. In addition to the sewer plant upgrade, Rooney provided the council with a project list that also includes construction of an annex garage for the Department of Public Works; demolishing and rebuilding DPW facilities on White Rock Road; replacement of the 100-year-old, 500,000-gallon water tank on Tower Street with a new 1 million-gallon tank; improvements to the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system at Town Hall; new parking lots at Cimalore Field, the Gingerella Sports Complex, and the Pee Wee football field on Old Hopkinton Road; work at the former Bradford School to convert it for use as a community center and storage facility for the Recreation Department; and construction of a system to prevent beavers from plugging culverts on Pound Road.

The council will also consider a proposal to prohibit parking on the east side of Canal Street, from just past Industrial Drive to  Pleasant Street. In executive session, the council will discuss the possible sale of the former Tower Street School and the surrounding property.

The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. in Council Chambers at Town Hall. Citizens can view and participate virtually via: Citizens can also participate by calling 929-205-6099 or 877-853-5257. The meeting identification number is 869 3795 1631.

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