South Hadley to hear residents’ thoughts on new trash system, wastewater rate increases at Saturday hearing

South Hadley Town Hall  04-12-2023

South Hadley Town Hall 04-12-2023


Staff Writer

Published: 04-11-2024 2:47 PM

SOUTH HADLEY — Residents will have a chance to weigh in on separate proposals that call for increasing wastewater rates and adopting a new trash system during two public hearings on Saturday at the Senior Center.

Beginning at 9 a.m., the wastewater hearing will discuss incremental increases in rates over the next five years. By fiscal year 2029, property-owners would pay a new yearly rate of $550 to use the municipal-owned sewer system, up from the current rate of $360 a year.

The increases will help the Department of Public Works upgrade and improve the 40-year-old wastewater treatment plant and pump stations in town.

The trash and recycling hearing, which begins at 10 a.m., will include presentations outlining three different options under consideration to replace the current pay-as-you-throw service. Residents will be able to comment on whether they prefer to stay with the town’s current vendor Republic Services to run the new cart-based trash system, whether the town should call for bids for a new vendor to run the service, or whether the town should get rid of its municipal trash system all together and let property owners contract with individual companies to dispose of their trash.

“I guess it all comes down to the public hearing and all of us hearing what the residents would like to see,” DPW Superintendent John Broderick said during the Select Board meeting on April 2.

The new Republic Services contract is a six-year agreement where the first year maintains the current manual system, giving the town time to raise money for cart purchases and residents time to adjust to new rates, and the remaining five years would involve switching to an automated system with carts instead of green bags.

The cost to the town will increase from $579,178 to $626,738 per year the first year, and then to $642,689 the second through sixth years.

Right now, residents pay a $125 annual trash fee, plus the expense of buying green bags at a grocery store. The new system, regardless of cart size, will cost more than the current green bag system.

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The Select Board also wants to gauge residents’ thoughts on leasing the carts or buying them outright. If the town decides to lease the carts from Republic Services, the company will be responsible for assembly, distribution, maintenance and replacements. Leasing allows the town to charge residents a lower amount per year for carts, but will add an additional $250,000 expense.

Broderick said the best choice is to buy the carts outright, but the town does not have the capital to purchase the 13,200 carts required. Therefore, the municipality may need to increase rates to raise funds to buy the carts, then lower them once the carts are funded.

Homeowners would be able to choose between a 35-, 65- or 95-gallon cart for trash and recycling. Select Board Chair Andrea Miles said the 35 gallon cart is small and could probably hold one or two of the green bags. However, Broderick said that grants for carts may only cover the 35-gallon option under the condition that the recycling carts are larger than the trash carts.

“If we change to carts and do not provide the correct size cart according to (Department of Environmental Protection) wishes, we may not be eligible for any reimbursement for the trash part,” he said. “They don’t have a provision in for anything larger than a 35 right now”

Two excel spreadsheets, one for wastewater and one for trash, are available on the South Hadley website for people to estimate increases to their utility bills.

Residents who cannot make the hearing in-person can watch on Channel 15 or ask questions on Zoom. Links to the cost-estimation spreads can be found here.

Emilee Klein can be reached at